Patriots receiving corps is much stronger this year

  • New England Patriots wide receiver Jakobi Meyers (16) runs with the ball during the team’s training camp on Wednesday in Foxborough, Mass. Meyers said he has had to keep improving to keep up with the new receivers the Patriots have brought in. Steven Senne / AP

  • New England Patriots wide receiver Jakobi Meyers (16) makes a catch during training camp on Aug. 3 in Foxborough, Mass. Steven Senne / AP

  • New England Patriots wide receiver Jakobi Meyers (16) wipes his face during training camp on Aug. 3 in Foxborough, Mass.  Steven Senne / AP

  • New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick steps on the field during training camp on Aug. 3 in Foxborough, Mass.  Steven Senne

  • New England Patriots wide receiver Kendrick Bourne (84) catches the ball during training camp on Aug. 3 in Foxborough, Mass.  Steven Senne / AP

  • New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) looks toward his hand during training camp on Aug. 3 in Foxborough, Mass.  Steven Senne / AP

  • New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft (left) speaks with quarterback Mac Jones (right) during training camp on Aug. 3 in Foxborough, Mass.  Steven Senne / AP

AP Sports Writer
Published: 8/7/2022 12:26:57 AM
Modified: 8/7/2022 12:23:39 AM

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Jakobi Meyers looks around the New England Patriots receivers’ meetings and struggles to find a weak link.

“It’s a lot of guys that can make a lot of plays,” Meyers said after practice on Wednesday.

“It’s not one guy in the room you can point to and say, ‘He might not make it.’ Honestly,” Meyers said. “That says a lot about the guys. They can all do different things but they all do them very well. I’m really excited about this group.”

A former rookie free agent, Meyers is heading into his fourth year with the Patriots, making him the longest-tenured receiver on the team. He is also the leading pass-catcher from last year, when he grabbed 83 for 866 yards and two touchdowns — all career highs.

But if that might have tempted him to take it easy, the increased competition in camp this year quickly wiped that thought from his mind. With new addition DeVante Parker, who came to New England from Miami in an offseason trade, and the resurgence of Nelson Agholor in his second camp with the Patriots, Meyers knows he can’t relax.

“You’ve got to get better. You don’t have a choice. Because if you don’t, somebody else will,” Meyers said. “We all like seeing other guys make plays. We’ve got a lot of guys who can make plays. There’s a lot of excitement in the room right now.”

Agholor came to New England after five seasons in Philadelphia and one in Las Vegas. In his first year with the Patriots, he caught 37 passes for 473 yards and three touchdowns — down from 48, 896 and eight with the Raiders.

But coach Bill Belichick says he has seen a “big jump” in Year 2 after Agholor spent the offseason working out in New England. At Tuesday’s practice, Agholor and second-year quarterback Mac Jones connected on a few deep balls and another across the back of the end zone, prompting cheers from the rest of the receiving group.

“He had a really good spring of training,” Belichick said. “He’s come out here, he’s consistently made plays ... very few mental errors, very few mistakes.”

The Patriots also added Tyquan Thornton, a second-round draft choice from Baylor who ran one of the fastest 40-yard dash times at the NFL combine, 4.28 seconds.

“He just flies. You don’t normally get to see 4.2 outside,” Meyers said. “Just to see him be able to go out there and fly down the field ... he looks covered and then he’ll just separate from some guys.”

Meyers said it’s hard to imagine how he became an elder statesman at the age of 25. He doesn’t shy away from trying to share his wisdom with the younger players, but he also said: “Everybody can’t talk.”

“Some people have just got to be able to listen and follow orders,” Meyers said. “I give my input when I can, but for the most part I’m just trying to soak up every detail that I can and just get ready when they call my name.

“It’s only my fourth year,” he said. “I try to help when I can. I’m not the most vocal guy, but when guys ask me I try to give them the best advice I can. Every detail that I can. I’m not holding anything back.”

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