Though the Patriots drafted up twice to draft tight ends this past spring, undrafted rookie Jake Burt has had his fair share of opportunities this summer and has looked like he belongs in the reinforced position group. Burt grew up locally, attended St. John's Prep in Danvers and spent four seasons at Boston College.
Now, he has the chance to play for his favorite hometown team.
"It's obviously been a dream come true," said Burt. "Every day I walk into to this building, I'm just extremely grateful to the Patriots and the entire organization. I couldn't be more happy.
"I was a Patriots fan through and through for as long as I can remember, diehard watching every game I could."
After grabbing 15 catches in seven games as a senior, Burt has entered the NFL at arguably the most difficult time possible for an undrafted rookie. But he credited his experience at St. John's Prep as formative in the development of a competitive attitude that carried him through college and now into the pros under difficult circumstances.
"They put me in an atmosphere of competition right from high school that's shaped a very competitive mentality in myself that I still carry with me," said Burt, who had fond memories of getting to play at Gillette Stadium both in a 7-on-7 tournament in high school and later against the UMass Minutemen while with the Eagles.
"I was always taking it in because it's where the Patriots played and they were always the team I cheered for so I cherished every moment I got at Gillette," said Burt, who will get another chance to play on that field on Friday when the team is expected to move inside the stadium for practice.
"There's no other place in the world I'd rather be," said Burt. "It's really a dream come true. I've been taking it one day at a time, trying to improve my game, myself. I just couldn't be more happy to be a Patriot."
Stidham still locked on competing and improving
Despite an injury setback last week, Jarrett Stidham has continued to take the field for each Patriots practice, putting in some of his most extensive work in Thursday's lively session that included referees. Though he's taken a bit of a back seat to Cam Newton in recent practices, Stidham remains focused on what he can control.
"Camp's long," said Stidham. "There's a lot of things that go into it, but I think for me my main focus, whether it was last year during the season, this off-season, this training camp, has always been just to improve every single day. There's never a perfect practice, that's the beauty of football -- you get to learn from good things you do and from bad things you do. For me, I've just really tried to continue to learn from my mistakes, learn from the things I'm doing correctly and keep moving forward and continue to try to get better."
Stidham seemed to shake off his reported injury and credited the support from his fellow quarterbacks and coaches for keeping him sharp.
"There's things that happen and sometimes you can't control everything," said Stidham. "Now I'm back on the field and excited to be back playing with the guys and everything like that. I just want to make the most of my opportunities that I have and try to make the most of them and try to continue to get better every single day."
Despite the spotlight that was put on Stidham this offseason, he continues to keep perspective, keeping his focus on what he can control -- competing and putting in the hard work to improve.
"I'm only my second year, there's a ton of room for me to grow," said Stidham. "A lot of room to improve and learn in a lot of different areas.
"Every day is a competition. I just view it as a great opportunity to get better with my teammates every single day and they compete really hard. I'm competing against myself to try to learn and grow every single day and make myself better."
Webex Quotes of Note
Devin McCourty on his reaction to the shooting of Jacob Blake:
I've been thinking a lot the last couple days. I've had so many different emotions of being angry, being sad. A lot of it is really been what I try to talk to young kids about. I felt very hopeless. I don't have a statement, I don't have anything powerful. It's just been very disheartening just watching things transpire, watching lives still be lost and it's not just police brutality, it's just everything we deal with.
Kicker Nick Folk on competing with rookie Justin Rohrwasser:
"Competition I think brings out the best in everyone anytime of the year. Whether that's in camp, when you come up for a workout, when you just go kind of train with other kickers and punters. I just think it brings out the best all the time. [Justin]'s doing pretty well so I'm just trying to keep my head down and worry about my part and let it all take care of itself."
James White on getting ready to play a game in just over two weeks:
"We just got to continue to progress. It's a crunch schedule, it's a couple weeks out from the first game. Each and every practice has to be meaningful, each and every meeting, each and every walk-through, has to meaningful. Guys are trying to do the best they can to take care of their bodies. You're not gonna play a full game that you might've had a chance to in preseason, so do as best we can to get in those full speed reps and we can translate as much to a game as possible. In a few weeks we'll be ready to go."