With Julian Edelman set to serve a four-game suspension to start the season and the Patriots having released Jordan Matthews, Malcolm Mitchell and Kenny Britt, Patterson has a chance to be a factor in the Patriots' passing game early on, ESPN's Mike Reiss reports.

Patterson has been in the team's kick return plans all along, and attrition within the ranks of the Patriots' receiving corps has paved the way for the 2013 first-rounder to contribute as a pass catcher. With Edelman out, Chris Hogan is the only New England wideout with a clear role for the first four games. Added opportunities are thus present for likely No. 2 option Phillip Dorsett as well as Patterson. While Patterson may not see consistent volume out of the gate, the 6-foot-2, 228-pounder has the size, athleticism and run-after-catch ability to become a playmaker for QB Tom Brady. As a result, he has some sleeper potential and should be kept on the radar as a potential September pickup.

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