As the Patriots continue to search for their offensive identity this season, undrafted rookie Jakobi Meyers is one player who could start to see a spike in playing time. Meyers has played 21.5 percent of the offensive snaps so far this season, with a high of 49 snaps coming in Week 3 against the Jets after Julian Edelman went out in the first half with a chest injury. He's grabbed three catches for 60 yards after a strong training camp that was not without its bumps in preseason games.
Even with a fully healthy receiving corps, the team could certainly use a boost at the position from a young player like Meyers, who has been consistently available since the summer. But it's a tough road for a young receiver entering the league.
"The transition from college to the NFL at that position is a big one," said head coach Bill Belichick recently. "A lot more coverages, a lot tighter coverage, a lot more route adjustments because of the variety of coverages and techniques, and leverage and so forth that the defenders will play."
"Jakobi works hard, and he's another guy that's done everything we've asked him to do," continued Belichick. "He's taken a lot of snaps, he's out there every day. He's a tough kid and he just keeps working hard, and you know, he gets better. He's improved quite a bit. Still got a long way to go and a lot of football in front of him, but he's made good, steady progress and if he continues to go about things with the same kind of work ethic and positive attitude and thirst for knowledge, then he'll continue to get better."
Aside from learning the NFL game, there's earning the trust of a veteran quarterback who is notoriously hard on young receivers. Meyers is now two months into a crash course of learning the Patriots offense with the greatest quarterback of all time at the controls.
"It's more so just trying to prove myself on the field to him, just building that trust everyday, just showing I'll be in the right spot," said Meyers. "Hopefully he trusts me enough to give me the ball."
For Brady, it's just about those around him following the example of hard work that the Patriots leaders set forth.
"I think one thing we talk about here is just doing our job," Brady said on Friday at his weekly press conference. "I can do what I can do. I can't do anything for anyone else. A lot of it's just trust, and trying to communicate 'trust and communication'. I've always said the best teammates are the ones I have to think about the least. I don't want to expend my mental energy on things that aren't really my job."
Working with Brady and earning that trust can be a challenge for young receivers, but Meyers is taking it in stride.
"[Brady] doesn't really have to do too much but just the feedback he gives me on the field, it just tells me where he wants me to be. At the end of the day, he's the one that's gotta throw the receivers the ball. If I know what he's thinking, if I can just be around him and listening to him - like what's his thought process - then I know where I need to get to."
Being around other offensive rookies like Jarrett Stidham and Gunner Olszewski is a good support network for Meyers.
"We all kind of feed off each other's energy," said Meyers. "Me and Gunner are kind of in the same situation being undrafted and all. Even Gunner's had it tougher, he's been cut before and brought back. We just keep each other motivated and keep each other pushing and I think we're gonna make it through this thing."
Again, it all goes back to focusing on your job and executing it the same way it's been done for nearly two decades in Foxboro.
"I feel like with the competitors we have in this room, like Jules and Tom and our coaching staff, they compete to be better every day," said Meyers. "Regardless of the situation from last week, every day we're gonna come out here and be the best Patriots we can be."
Brady agreed with that sentiment.
"I think what makes a good team is just people doing their job, doing it the best way they can."
If Meyers keeps that focus he could find himself emerge into a more significant role this season, maybe as soon as Sunday.
The Patriots welcomed new practice squad kicker Younghoe Koo, while receiver Kelvin McKnight, just signed on Wednesday, was the odd man out. Otherwise, there was perfect attendance at practice which is always a positive sign four weeks into the season.
Josh Gordon and Michael Bennett were both removed from the report, leaving five players as questionable for this weekend's contest with the Redskins.
RB Rex Burkhead, Foot (LP)
S Patrick Chung, Heel (LP)
S Nate Ebner, Groin (LP)
WR Julian Edelman, Chest (LP)
LB Dont'a Hightower. Shoulder (LP)
Locker Room Sound Bites
Jakobi Meyers on Tom Brady's tone after plays in practice:
"It depends on how the play went. If it's a good play he's gonna be excited - you'd think he was my age jumping around. If it was a bad play you'd think he was my parent."