Some of the Patriots rookies checked in with the media on Thursday, fresh off the practice field after another OTA session. Like all rookie classes, this one has been thrown into the flames of professional football, but they're fortunate that 2021's offseason has looked far closer to normal than what last year's class had to endure.
Still, that doesn't make it any easier to master NFL schemes and expectations.
"You got to stay in that playbook or you'll get left behind definitely," said running back Rhamondre Stevenson. "It's a lot of information -- special teams, offensively, for the defensive player defensively. For me personally... routes, pass pick ups, run schemes, who are the o-line blocking, certain things like that. I'm not doing nothing but learning, taking everything in and trying to become a sponge and soak everything in."
Quarterback Mac Jones, the team's first-round pick, has followed a similar approach, describing his process of getting into the playbook and dividing things up into two buckets -- one for what he's got down, the other for what's he can't yet master. The rookie signal caller has seen some ups and downs in OTAs and continues to work through the infancy of his career, leaning on offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who Jones called a great teacher, coach and person.
"You're gonna have good days and you're gonna have bad days, but honestly you just gotta take it day by day and don't look forward to tomorrow and don't look back at yesterday, just be where your feet are," described Jones of how he's getting through it. "I've gotten a chance to meet and be with all the rookies and that's been a lot of fun and we're kind of all going through it. The veteran players are all setting example, so overall we're just trying to be the best Patriots we can be."
By leaning on each other, the rookies can help themselves through it, and that's helped forge an early bond between Jones and seventh-round receiver Tre Nixon.
"It's been a good connection," said Nixon of his growing rapport with Jones. "We help each other study, kind of lean on each other when times get hard and it's just like with everybody else, even the other quarterbacks too with Hoyer, with Stidham, with Cam. You look to the quarterbacks to help you with the play calls just get integrated with the system."
The veteran quarterbacks aren't the only ones that are helping show the youngsters the ropes, as Nixon pointed out all the vets surrounding him at wide receiver.
"Just watching them dudes in practice, I just learn so much every day... how to be a pro, how to operate, little things to help me get open," said Nixon.
"They've helped a tremendous amount, not even only on the field but just off the field, how to carry yourself, what to be prepared for on the football field in the classroom, things like that," echoed Stevenson.
The rookies will reach a new stage in their development with the arrival of mandatory minicamp next week. Despite the overwhelming amount of new information being dumped on them, the new players are clearly enjoying their first month in the NFL, even if it is still the offseason.
"It's a great feeling," said Stevenson. "This is what I dreamed of since I was about seven years old. It's an awesome feeling, just being around all these pros, being around so many great players. I'm just taking it all in, enjoying every aspect of it."
Presenting photos of the Patriots OTAs at Gillette Stadium on Thursday, June 10, 2021.