Holt showed up to Gillette Stadium last week for the Patriots' voluntary offseason workouts, and he is doing his part to take second-year wideouts Julian Edelman and Brandon Tate under his veteran wing. Holt, who turns 34 next month, did the same thing in Jacksonville last season with Mike Sims-Walker, and he'd like to think it played a tangible role in Sims-Walker's breakout season.
"[Sims-Walker] stepped out and did some great things," Holt said. "Hopefully, this year he can continue. It's about consistency in this league. Now teams know about [Sims-Walker]. They had a whole year to study him, what he does well, what he doesn't do well. They're studying him, and he has to counter that. Those are the things you have to talk to young receivers about. That was one of the things I talked to Edelman about. Now, teams have a year to study you. They know what you do well, what you don't do well, how they like to use you. Now, you have to put yourself in a position where you can counter that, give yourself some more options. That's how you stay relevant. That's how you stay consistent, and that's how you become a good football player in the National Football League."
Holt would know a thing or two about what he speaks. He's had a sparkling 11-year career, and his decade in St. Louis made him a borderline Hall of Famer. The seven-time Pro Bowler ranks 11th all-time with 920 receptions and 10th with 13,382 receiving yards. Basically, when Torry Holt speaks, the younger generations listen.
"These guys are young, eager guys who want to learn," Holt said. "They want to be good at their particular craft. I know they're going to be watching me day in and day out. I'm very aware of that, so I can basically just come out, improve, do what I do, be consistent. I talk to them a lot about being consistent day in and day out. If you want to have a long career in the National Football League, you have to be consistent. You have to be focused. You have to have passion about what you're doing. Those guys seem to exude that. It's just a matter of continuing to put it together and just keep working."
When Holt arrived in St. Louis as the sixth overall pick in the 1999 draft, he had veterans who played the same role, including wide receivers Isaac Bruce and Ricky Proehl, tight end Ernie Conwell, running back Marshall Faulk and linebacker Mike Jones.
That helped Holt at the dawn of his career, and it's left a mark on him ever since. When he was younger, he could excel due to his superior athletic ability, but now, he has gravitated toward headier play, focusing on exact details — if it's a seven-yard route, don't run six yards and two feet — and becoming more patient.
Initially, Holt said he hoped to play 10 years in the NFL, but he's entering his 12th season and figures a 16th might not be out of the realm of possibility. Plus, he has only missed three games over the course of his career, and that’s a direct result of years of dedication. The younger receivers can only watch and admire Holt's drive to succeed, and it will help Edelman, Tate and the Patriots for seasons to come.
"Our best players on our team were the hardest workers," Holt said of his early years. "For someone like myself, coming in young, there was no room for me to slack, no room for me to be a prima donna, I had to come in and try to mimic that [hard work ethic] because that was the standard."