With injuries tearing down the Patriots wide receiver depth chart undrafted rookie free agent Chris Harper has been working his way up the depth chart. Harper has played well so far this season not only as a receiver but also as a return man on special teams. We all know Bill Belichick loves versatility in his players and with Harper showing his ability to do multiple things on the field
Harper has been receiving a lot of snaps with injuries to Edelman, LaFell, Dobson and Tyms and so far has made the most of his opportunities. It seems very likely that Brian Tyms is going to end up on the season ending injured reserve and Brandon LaFell possibly starting the year on the physically unable to perform list and Aaron Dobson battling yet another injury the Patriots receiver depth chart would take a hit and need players to step up, and Harper could be that player. Through two preseason games Harper has tallied 12 receptions for 117 yards and one touchdown as well as averaging 10.7 yards per punt return and 23.8 yards per kickoff return.
Though it is just preseason and can never take anything into full effect Harper has gained the attention of coaches and players with his increase of snaps and production. The first preseason game third year man Josh Boyce was the main target for Jimmy Garoppolo, week two it was Harper who edged out Boyce on both offense and special teams. Boyce was not targeted at all on offense and didn’t receive any returns on special teams and I believe didn’t see a single snap in Friday’s win against the Saints. With the lack of depth the Patriots currently have at wide receiver the fact that Boyce didn’t receive a snap goes to show that New England doesn’t see him in their plans for 2015 and maybe the future. Harper seemed to have taken Boyce’s shot at the 53rd roster spot and will continue to fight for his spot over the next few weeks of practice and preseason. I would love to see Harper make the final 53 man roster with how he has played so far this preseason and wouldn’t want to risk losing him by placing him on the practice squad. I think the Patriots receiving corps should look like Edelman LaFell, Amendola, Dobson, and Harper, if all are healthy. Harper may not always be active or see a lot of playing time but keeping him on the roster would get him experience and playing time in practice as well as not risk losing him to another team by placing him on the practice squad.