Who will lead the Patriots in receptions this season?

James White facing the Saints in 2017.
New England Patriots running back James White (28) lines up on the line of scrimmage against New Orleans Saints strong safety Vonn Bell. –AP Photo/Butch Dill

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With Julian Edelman out for the year and a bunch of other guys already dealing with injuries, who do you think leads the Patriots in catches this year? Even though he’s more of a deep threat, my guess is Brandin Cooks if he stays healthy. He’s going to become a bigger and bigger part of the offense as the season goes on and Tom Brady learns to trust him. – Jim R.

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If I were a gambling man, I’d put a few bucks down on it being James White. Edelman led the Patriots in receptions last season with 98, but White was second with 60. I don’t think many fans were aware of his importance to the passing game as it evolved last season, at least until he delivered a certain 14-catch performance at the perfect time.

White is the Patriots’ receptions leader this season through two games with 11. Rob Gronkowski would be another logical pick here if he weren’t already dealing with an injury. He’s second with eight catches this year. He had just 25 a year ago in eight games (albeit at 21.6 yards per catch, which is just nuts), but he does have three seasons of at least 72 catches, including a high of 90. If he can play, say, 14 games, he might be pretty close to White.

It is staggering how many injuries the Patriots are dealing with among their pass catchers. Gronk, Chris Hogan, and Phillip Dorsett (a pleasant surprise so far) were all hobbling by the end of Sunday’s win. Edelman’s season is done before it began, Malcolm Mitchell is out for at least half the season, Danny Amendola has already missed a game. We all figured there would be attrition, but not to this degree before Week 3. Related: If Dwayne Allen is going to contribute, next Sunday against the Texans would be a good time to start. He needs to be a reasonable facsimile of Martellus Bennett.

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What do you guys think? Who will lead the Patriots in receptions? Don’t say Randy Moss, but I’ll listen on Calvin Johnson. I’ll hear you in the comments.

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