Time to play.
Phillip Dorsett, WR: This week’s Y Factors is going to be four-fifths “Newest Guys” and one-fifth “Other Guy.” While Dorsett is the fifth wideout on the depth chart and will likely be integrated slowly into the offense (PatsPulpit has a great article on this), and I do not think it probable that he will be active Thursday night, his speed gives New England a trio of threats who can burn a defense deep at any time. It will surely take time, but I am excited to see how Dorsett can operate in the Patriots offense.
Cassius Marsh, DE: Of the Patriots’ four pre-cuts trade acquisitions, Marsh is the one who I see being a sneaky early contributor. New England is expected to use some of their outside linebackers on the defensive edge, but Marsh is still the third defensive end on a short depth chart. He recorded three sacks and a forced fumble for Seattle last year, so Marsh could be in position to take on a larger defensive role this year. Plus, he is a frequent special teams contributor, which always is a plus with Bill Belichick.
Johnson Bademosi, CB: I think the general expectation for Bademosi is that he takes on last season’s Jonathan Jones role of “gunner who only comes in to play defense when backups are in,” while Jones is elevated to fourth corner. The acquisition of Bademosi gives New England at least four very good gunners (Matthew Slater, Brandon King, and Jones), so the Patriots have plenty of options as to how to deploy their best players on every special teams unit. I really think New England’s special teams this year will legitimately be fun to watch, except for all the touchbacks.
Marquis Flowers, LB: More special teams! With Shea McClellin on IR, Flowers is expected to primarily be a contributor on the third unit but could step in on defense if needed. There were several Tracy White comparisons made at his acquisition, but Flowers did not play in the final preseason game, meaning at this point it’s purely guesswork what kind of role Flowers may have on the New England defense, if any.
Lawrence Guy, DT: If you spotted the sneaky pun in the opening Dorsett sentence, you knew who my fifth player was. Thursday will be our first real indication of how the Patriots will use their defensive linemen and edge players, and one player I think is being somewhat forgotten is Guy, who can line up on the interior and exterior and had New England’s first preseason sack. The Chiefs’ line is strongest at center Mitch Morse and right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif – I don’t know much about left guard Bryan Witzmann, left tackle Eric Fisher is improving but has never lived up to his top-pick draft status, and right tackle Mitchell Schwartz struggled due to injury last year. I don’t know exactly where or how the Patriots are going to utilize Guy, but I think he will be a player to watch throughout the season.