Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
If you've been out of the country for the last six months, you may not know most of these names. That's because the Pats have completely overhauled their wide receiver depth chart, with Julian Edelman and "Wide-Receiver-in-Name-Only" Matthew Slater being the only players to return at the position in 2013.
Even against the shoddy Bills secondary, there will likely be bumps in the road. I expect drops, miscommunication and mistimed routes. Those will probably be standard fare for a receiving corps that features three rookies among the top five wide outs on the depth chart.
I also expect some dynamic play from a very talented group of athletes.
Amendola has been the most reliable of the bunch in preseason, and Brady loves his slot receivers. I expect a healthy Amendola to be among the league's top-10 in targets by the end of the year.
Expectations are sky-high for the undrafted Kenbrell Thompkins, who shot his way up the Patriots depth chart after a sensational offseason. I expect him to cool off a bit coming into his first game, though, as the Pats don't typically lean on rookie receivers. Still, I think he'll be solid in his NFL premiere.
The Pats' highest drafted wide receiver, Aaron Dobson, lost a bit of steam this preseason with the emergence of Thompkins. He'll likely only play in three-wide-receiver sets, with Thompkins starting alongside Amendola in the two-wide-receiver base. Dobson has big-play ability, but until he can pass Thompkins, we likely won't see much of it in Week 1.
It seems as though Julian Edelman may have been passed over by a number of younger receivers on the depth chart. Still, the Pats saw fit to bring him back for another season following a foot injury that ended his 2012 campaign.
Edelman is a key special teamer who adds some offensive value on bubble screens and short routes, so he'll likely be active over Josh Boyce in Week 1 (unless they name Boyce the top kick returner). Edelman has the advantage of system familiarity over everyone else on this list, though, so expect a few looks his way in Week 1 while Brady seeks out a new binky.
Prediction for Amendola: 11 catches, 109 yards, one TD
Prediction for Thompkins: Four catches, 53 yards
Prediction for Dobson: Two catches, 28 yards
Prediction for Edelman: Three catches, 21 yards