Jakobi Meyers broke through with the Patriots as an undrafted rookie in 2019 with 26 catches and then bettered that with 59 catches in 2020, leading the team and solidifying his spot as a reliable receiver who knew where to be and how to make the critical catches.
It was a baptism of fire in his first two seasons.
"I had to learn fast," said Meyers after Tuesday evening's practice session that featured a heavy dose of special teams. "I came in with a first-round receiver, Tom Brady, a future Hall of Famer... I had to pick it up real fast and definitely push the tempo."
Now that he's found his stride, Meyers is keeping things rolling in his third training camp. So far, he's been the team's most reliable receiver this summer, making his living catching crossers over the middle. No matter who the quarterback has been, Meyers has shown up, day in and day out, while passing along credit to Troy Brown and Julian Edelman for helping him master the variety of routes that are asked of slot receivers.
Now, Meyers is able to help pass that knowledge to the other receivers trying to navigate the same challenges.
"I feel I can help out more, I tell guys how I see things if guys are doing something wrong," said Meyers. "Give them that information and let them do what they want with it."
After throwing two touchdowns in 2020, Meyers is still waiting to get into the end zone in his career. A touchdown might be the final piece necessary to show that he's arrived, but something that should happen simply because Meyers has remained so consistent throughout his first three seasons, staying on the field and taking advantage of his opportunities.
But Meyers isn't getting comfortable just yet.
"I don't feel like I've proven anything yet," said Meyers. " was more just like a taste, an appetizer. I didn't do enough to say I'm solidified. I'm still trying to show everybody how hard I work and how good I can be and I feel like I still got a lot of room to grow."
Godchaux, Judon represent newly added toughness
The Patriots defense gave up the 26th-most rushing yards in the NFL last season while Football Outsiders had them ranked 32nd in opponent-adjusted DVOA and clearly, it was something that the team wanted to fix this season.
The additions of defensive lineman Davon Godchaux and linebacker Matthew Judon are two of the prime examples of big, tough players who can win more battles upfront in 2021.
"The tough days are the days you establish your defense and your team," said Godchaux on Tuesday. "I like to describe myself as a tough guy, mental toughness, that's what brings out the best in my game."
Despite his veteran status, Judon is still embracing every chance he gets on the field, especially when there will be fans back in attendance.
"I am ready every time I get the opportunity to step on the football field," said Judon. "I won't take it for granted however many plays I'm playing, if I play through the fourth quarter or whatever it is I'm gonna give it my best. You never know it's your last play so take advantage of all of it."
Judon added he didn't need any preferential treatment, even in preseason.
"You all gonna report what you all see and if I come out there and look sloppy, you all definitely gonna report it," said Judon. "That's what you all should report and you shouldn't preface it with 'well, but it was preseason.'"
5 Keys from Training Camp Practice no. 12
- This was the second in-stadium practice but it was held in shells and featured a lot of work on special teams as the Patriots get some final details in order prior to Thursday night's preseason contest against Washington.
- Malik Gant signed with the team, giving them some late but badly needed help at the safety position. Adrian Colbert's return on Tuesday might be too late to see him dress for Thursday, leaving the team without many options beyond their main starters and special teamer Cody Davis. Avoiding putting Devin McCourty, Adrian Phillips and Kyle Dugger in the line of fire too much should be a big key.
- Harvey Langi grabbed an interception off of Brian Hoyer in some of the team work as he continues to be a dark horse roster candidate. A core special teamer with some NFL experience on defense, Langi's chances were aided by Raekwon McMillan's season-ending injury.
- Cam Newton didn't see much action in the practice, a possible sign he won't see much, if any, action on Thursday night. Hoyer took the majority of the reps, with a sprinkling of Mac Jones. That could be a good formula against Washington but it would still be great to get an extended look at the rookie.
- Just because he hasn't gotten much love in these posts it's time to shout out Jake Bailey, whose booming punts are a lot of fun to watch inside the stadium. Bailey continues to show why he was All-Pro and Pro Bowler last season.