Bill Belichick comments on JuJu Smith-Schuster’s demotion in Patriots-Dolphins game

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — The Patriots shook up their wide receiver depth chart, but the change might have only been temporary based on how Sunday’s loss to the Dolphins unfolded.

Patriots wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, a starter over the first five weeks of the season, didn’t see action until wide receiver Kendrick Bourne left the game with a knee injury. Wide receiver DeVante Parker had already departed the game with a head injury.

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A source told the Herald’s Andrew Callahan that Bourne will undergo an MRI on his knee Monday.

The demotion came after Smith-Schuster replaced wide receiver Jakobi Meyers in the Patriots’ offense this season as their prized free-agent signing, adding him on a three-year, $25.5 million contract.

Smith-Schuster has just 15 catches for 89 yards and a touchdown in six games.

“We played multiple people,” head coach Bill Belichick said. “Missed two weeks. But we played multiple people. So. whichever guy plays less, you’ll ask why that guy didn’t play more and so, we can’t play everybody.”

Smith-Schuster was out Weeks 6 and 7 with a concussion. Bourne, Parker and Douglas were the team’s top receivers before injuries affected the group. Jalen Reagor also played ahead of Smith-Schuster.

“It’s what the coaches — the decisions they made with the players,” Smith-Schuster said. “It is what it is. I’ve been in situations like this before. So, just when the opportunity comes, make the most of it.”

Smith-Schuster’s lone catch was a 3-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Mac Jones. That was Smith-Schuster’s first score in his Patriots career.

He said he knew it was a possibility that his snaps would be limited coming into the game.

The Patriots made wide receivers Tyquan Thornton and Kayshon Boutte inactive as healthy scratches in Sunday’s loss to the Dolphins. They’ll likely dress next week against the Commanders if Bourne and Parker can’t play.

Dolphins safety DeShonn Elliott was not flagged for his hit on Parker that caused the head injury, but Patriots captain Matthew Slater still believed he would get fined for the play. Elliott helmet collided with Parker’s helmet once on the hit and when they fell to the turf.

Jones blamed himself for Parker’s injury.

“Hate seeing that when you’re the quarterback,” Jones said. “It’s the worst feeling in the world. Can’t put someone in that position.”

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