Ahead of their playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts last weekend, the New England Patriots signed to their practice squad someone named Reggie Dunn.
Dunn is an undrafted, unheralded wide receiver. But he also is roughly the same height, weight and speed as Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton, who had scorched the Kansas City Chiefs with 13 catches for 224 yards and two touchdowns in the wild-card round.
As a practice-squad Patriot, Dunn was charged with imitating Hilton, giving New England's defense a head start. Apparently it worked: In a 43-22 win over the Colts, the Patriots held Hilton to four catches for 104 yards.
The Dunn hiring illustrates a little-known scheme that Patriots coach Bill Belichick employs for slowing down opponents: He clones them, stacking his practice squad with replicas of some of the NFL's most dangerous players.
"I don't know where he finds these guys," said former Dallas Cowboys executive Gil Brandt. "Every week, they bring in someone. Same height, same speed. It's like they practice against your twin brother."
To prepare for Sunday's AFC Championship Game in Denver against the Broncos, the Patriots in recent weeks signed to their practice squad 6-foot-3-Greg Orton, a doppelgänger for 6-foot-3 Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas.
"It's something Bill does," said Patriots safety Duron Harmon. "To (practice against) a guy with the same height, weight, speed, it helps a lot."
Read the whole thing.