Jakobi Meyers has come a long way from Googling “big receivers that are slow, that run good routes” to help him switch from quarterback to receiver as an undrafted rookie two years ago.
He comes into the 2021 season as the Patriots’s returning top pass-catcher, though that certainly wasn’t the plan heading into last season.
As Meyers told reporters on a media call Tuesday, he had to be ready when his number was called.
“The game is always changing,” he said. “Just being able to adjust real quickly and understand everybody’s role so that if one guy went down, I could just hop in there. Because I didn’t know when my opportunity was going to come. So I wanted to prepare for when my opportunity finally hit and just run with it.”
He hopes to improve on his team-leading 59 catches and 729 yards from 2020 when this season unfolds. The question, of course, is who he’ll be catching the passes from.
Meyers was sure to praise all four Patriots quarterbacks he’s worked with at OTAs so far, including presumed starter Cam Newton and rookie first-round pick Mac Jones.
But while he wouldn’t give any hints toward his preference or how any “competition” might be unfolding, he had positive words for Jones’s early impressions.
“From the couple days we’ve had together, he’s been definitely easy to work with,” Meyers said. “He probably won’t run past everybody, so throwing a catchable ball is definitely something that’s got him to where he is. And he’s blessed to have the arm talent he has. It’s nice working with him. He does throw a catchable ball.”
As for Newton, he says he hasn’t necessarily noticed a big change in Newton’s mechanics or throwing motion, noting his quarterbacking evaluation skills have waned since he stopped playing the position. “But I know he does look good right now,” he added.
Whoever ends up throwing the passes for the Patriots will be doing so to a receiver room that looks much different from last season.
Meyers returns as the team’s leading receiver in catches (59) and yards (729). But New England’s second-leading receiver from 2020 (Damiere Byrd) and second-most prolific pass-catcher of all-time (Julian Edelman) are gone.
Enter new free-agent signees Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne, with whom Meyers has formed a fast bond.
“They’re family already,” he said of his new teammates. “I love having them around, just the energy they bring and how hard they work. They’re definitely two guys — you can tell they want to be the best at what they do. Every day we come in here, they push each other, they push us, and it has definitely brought some new life to the room.”
For himself, Meyers says the keys in 2021 will be remaining adaptable and staying consistent in his performance.
“I feel like last year I had a couple brain farts here and there, just mental lapses where I’d know what to do but it wouldn’t click with me right away,” he explained. “Be able to be consistent day in, day out for as long as the season is is something I want to get better at.”
As he strives for those goals, he says he’ll take the lessons he gleaned from Patriots legend Edelman — both spoken and unspoken — along with him.
“Jules was definitely an ultimate vet. He might not say the kind words here and there. But you could watch Jules, and he’d never say a word — but you’d learn a book worth of information,” Meyers said. “Having him around, it definitely helped my game tremendously. I’m just excited I got to be with him in the locker room for those two years.”
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