Unfamiliar Faces Step Up Big for Tom Brady, New England Patriots

Beginning to Get Comfortable

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | Following their win against the New York Jets last week, there have been plenty of questions surrounding the receiving core of the New England Patriots. While the nation watched Tom Brady openly show his frustrations on the field, we started to wonder how long their offense could stay afloat with so many injuries. Despite still not having Danny Amendola, Rob Gronkowski, or Shane Vereen, Patriots fans definitely feel a little better following yesterday's win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Yes, it's only Tampa Bay. Yes, they are currently 0-3. They've certainly had their fair share of turmoil, particularly involving Greg Schiano and Josh Freeman. As dysfunctional as they might seem to be, it's important to keep in mind that their defense is still a more than capable group. Regardless, having a solid passing attack against a team featuring Darrelle Revis at corner should not be completely ignored.

While Julian Edelman still appeared to be a security blanket for Brady, it's clear a few others stepped up as well. Aaron Dobson provided 52 yards on seven catches, while Kenbrell Thompkins caught two touchdown passes. Although this may just be a baby step in the big picture of things, it's hard for Patriots fans to not be a little encouraged by what they saw yesterday.

It's important for some of the younger guys to gain a little bit of confidence as the team's schedule suddenly gets much tougher. They will face the Atlanta Falcons, Cincinnati Bengals, and New Orleans Saints over the next three weeks, three teams who could easily give New England their first loss. After all of the yelling and screaming during the Jets game, it must feel nice for Dobson and Thompkins to contribute in a positive way.

It's widely believed that Rob Gronkowski will return at some point in the near future, hopefully knocking these young receivers down into a secondary role where they can consistently succeed. Although nobody is holding their breath on Danny Amendola to return, Edelman and Gronk should be able to keep the pressure off of Dobson and Thompkins.

Before one of the toughest stretches within their schedule, it's great to see Dobson and Thompkins play well. As Brady gets one or two of his weapons back, these two receivers should be able to maintain their success in a smaller role. It's just one game, but it's hard to not root for a couple of young guys who were thrown into the fire right away.

Mark lives in the Boston area and has been covering New England sports for various blogs over the past 4 years. He has been featured on Fox Sports Yardbarker, Fox Sports, and Sports Illustrated "Hot Clicks", and has been published on Celtics 24/7, Bleacher Report, and Sports-Kings.

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