Breaking down the WR situation

June, 11, 2013
6/11/13
5:22
PM ET
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- It's too early to sound the alarm, but when the Patriots opened their three-day minicamp on Tuesday, they did so with more wide receivers sidelined than actively participating in practice.

Just how much shuffling has taken place at the position? Lining up alongside free-agent additions Danny Amendola and Michael Jenkins was rookie Kenbrell Thompkins, an undrafted free agent from Cincinnati.

It highlighted how Thompkins has an opportunity to emerge this week, with the team's three other rookie receivers -- Aaron Dobson (second round), Josh Boyce (fourth round), and Mark Harrison (undrafted) -- all working with athletic trainers for the duration of Tuesday's session.

Meanwhile, Julian Edelman remains out of commission with a foot injury and was spotted as recently as May 31 in a walking boot, putting his availability for the start of training camp in question. That left Matthew Slater as the lone holdover from last season's receiver group on the practice field Tuesday, and Slater is primarily a special-teams contributor.

Another offseason pickup at receiver, Donald Jones, spent Tuesday's practice on a stationary bike, while Lavelle Hawkins, who arrived in New England last month, was on the field Tuesday but has yet to stand out in practice.

And then there's Kamar Aiken. Mainly a special-teamer who spent the bulk of his time last season on the practice squad, Aiken saw extended reps during OTAs in recent weeks, but did not appear to participate in any full-team drills on Tuesday for unknown reasons.

Of all of the players sidelined at receiver, the absences of Dobson and especially Boyce, who has been unable to practice since being drafted in April, might be the most concerning to the team. Missing time in May and June sets them back when rookies are set to report to training camp in mid-July, and forces the team to rely on more experienced players at the position.

To that end, the Patriots hosted veteran Austin Collie on a workout recently, a league source told Mike Reiss. The team also had Chaz Schilens in for Tuesday's practice, according to a source.

It's important to keep in perspective that training camp is still more than a month away, and other than rookie T.J. Moe, who is on injured reserve with a torn Achilles, the Patriots appear to have dodged serious injury to any of their receivers. But at a position that has seen as much turnover as it has this offseason, the current personnel situation is hardly ideal.

Mike Rodak

ESPN Buffalo Bills reporter

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