Josh Gordon elevates near top of Patriots' WR depth chart

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- It all happened in a “Flash.”

Josh Gordon is officially a top-of-the-depth-chart wide receiver for the New England Patriots, with his breakthrough Sunday night having a significant trickle-down effect on the team’s personnel usage -- and on fantasy football leagues.

After assuming a limited role in Weeks 4 and 5, when he played 18 snaps apiece, Gordon played extensively in two- and three-receiver packages against the Kansas City Chiefs. He totaled 18 snaps before the end of the first quarter, and by the time the game was over, his 63-snap output was a hard-to-miss surge that is reshaping the team’s attack.

Yes, there are still some growing pains, but Gordon has successfully met the first challenge for any new Patriots pass-catcher: He has earned quarterback Tom Brady’s trust.

“I have a lot of confidence in him. It’s just been so impressive what he’s done in a short period of time -- to learn the offense, have the kind of attitude he’s had about doing whatever the team needs him to do,” Brady said Monday on sports radio WEEI. “For him to be in there as many plays, in my view, is just so impressive. Our offense certainly is not easy, so we’re just building on it.”

Gordon said he is “pretty familiar with the playbook."

“Still some growing pains and stuff like that you’ve got to work out at practice,” he said. “Through the course of just being here just under a month, you know, I’m trying to make it work as fast as I can. So we’ll get it figured out here pretty soon.”

Gordon’s gain on Sunday night was Phillip Dorsett’s loss.

Dorsett, who was a top-two option alongside Chris Hogan in the first month of the season while Julian Edelman served a four-game suspension, played just three snaps on Sunday night.

Meanwhile, Hogan’s workload was also down a bit (47), though part of that was a result of his expanded special-teams role. With injuries to core special teamers Geneo Grissom and John Simon, the Patriots tapped Hogan to play on all four of their core units -- punt protection/coverage, punt return, kickoff coverage and kickoff return -- so it was smart for coaches to lighten his offensive load.

As for Gordon, he was targeted a team-high nine times by Brady, and they weren’t always in sync (e.g. the game’s initial fourth-down play). But Brady believes that with more time, the results will become even more consistent.

“I have no doubt we’ll be on the same page as the season goes,” he said.

That obviously isn’t an issue with Edelman, given their 10 years together, and an Edelman-Gordon pairing is now looking like the Patriots’ most likely 1-2 punch at receiver.

Brady told NBC that Gordon ran full speed in practice for the first time last week, as he was no longer held back by a hamstring injury. Gordon’s speed -- and threat as a downfield target -- was perhaps most evident when he drew a 37-yard pass interference penalty in the second quarter.

“He’s a football player, he wants to be out there, he’s a competitor. Made some big plays for us,” Brady said. “I think the best is ahead of us if we just keep working at it.”