While Rob Gronkowski's status remains a mystery, the Patriots added several other pass catchers to the injury report ahead of this week's matchup with the Bengals. Chief among them: Kenbrell Thompkins, Aaron Dobson, and Matthew Slater, to go along with Danny Amendola, who hasn't played since Week 1.
The expectation is that Thompkins and Dobson will play, but this is purely speculative because coach Bill Belichick has never been particularly forthcoming about, well, anything. So while we wait for that mystery to play out, the Patriots added depth at the position Thursday, signing former Colts wide receiver Austin Collie.
A former 2009 fourth-round pick, Collie's career has been marred by concussions, and played in just one game in 2012 after rupturing a patella tendon. But when not injured, he has been extremely productive, hauling in 172 receptions during his first three NFL seasons.
We don't expect Collie to make an immediate impact, mostly because he's been in the Pats' offense for literally a few hours. But Tom Brady has other reasons for optimism. Namely: Julian Edelman, the former Kent St. quarterback-turned-Brady's favorite target.
"To play college quarterback ... I’d love to see those old tapes of him running around because he’s kind of a spaz," Brady said Wednesday, via ESPNBoston.com. "I always say, ‘God, what were you like in the huddle as a quarterback? How could anyone look at you seriously?’ But I guess he did pretty good. He definitely can’t throw the ball so he made the right switch to receiver at the right time."
But seriously, Brady is happy to have Edelman, one of the few healthy veteran wideouts on the roster.
"He’s been great. Very hard worker, he’s dedicated, nobody works harder than Julian," Brady said. "It’s hard when you’re playing behind Wes for all these years. You’re just not going to get a lot of opportunity because Wes was such a great player, was durable and Jules never got a chance. Now he’s got it and it doesn’t look like he’s slowing down at all."
The Patriots are 4-0 without many of their top offensive players. Of course, the best player -- Brady -- is healthy and that, ultimately, is all that matters. But once Gronk and Amendola return to the field, this could be the only team capable of giving the Broncos a run for the AFC title. But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. First thing first: beating the Bengals this weekend.