FOXBORO, Mass. — Jakobi Meyers is in the midst of perhaps the best preseason by any New England Patriots wide receiver in the Bill Belichick era. But success with the team’s star quarterback thus far has eluded the undrafted rookie sensation.
Though Meyers caught seven passes on nine targets for 74 yards in Thursday’s 10-3 victory over the Carolina Panthers at Gillette Stadium, he failed to haul in any of the three passes Tom Brady threw his way.
“(It was) definitely (frustrating), because I want to go out there and put my best foot forward every day, especially as an undrafted rookie,” Meyers said after the game. “But all I can do is learn from tape now, get better and not think about it too long. … I’ve just got to pick up my game so I don’t have any more 0-for-3 performances and I can give (Brady) my best game every day.”
On at least two of Meyers’ incompletions from Brady, the young wideout appeared to run the wrong route or make the wrong read. His second target — on third-and-8 on the game’s opening series — landed 10 yards past Meyers after he slowed down on a post pattern.
Brady could be seen hollering at the North Carolina State product after that misfire.
“I think for all of us, you play with guys that are maybe new to the offense and so forth,” Brady said. “Sometimes they think they’re not part of the route, and then a team plays a certain coverage and they’re part of the route. Early in the season, that’s part of this time of year. We don’t have the full week to prepare. We’re kind of putting things together on the fly. Yeah, those are learning moments for all of us.”
For Meyers, getting a tongue-lashing from a future Hall of Famer was a surreal experience.
“I was like, ‘Man, I’m really getting yelled at by Tom Brady,’ ” he said.
Meyers found his groove once fellow rookie Jarrett Stidham replaced Brady midway through the second quarter. The two hooked up seven times on nine tries, including completions of 10, 12, 14 and 19 yards.
During a Panthers possession late in the first half, Brady sat down next to Meyers on the bench to share a few teaching points.
“Tom’s played for a long time,” Meyers explained, “so when he wants to sit down and talk, you give him an open ear. He was just telling me what I need to do, what I don’t need to do. I’m just trying to listen to everything he says, good or bad, soak it up and get better.”
Through three preseason games, Meyers has caught 19 passes for 225 yards and two touchdowns, the highest preseason yardage total ever by a Patriots wide receiver under Belichick. Despite his success, which has all but guaranteed him a spot on the 53-man roster, Meyers viewed Thursday’s rocky outing as a positive — a necessary reminder that things don’t come easy in the NFL.
“You kind of get comfortable, and that’s the one thing that you don’t want to do as a Patriot — get comfortable,” So the fact that I had this moment, I’m definitely going to learn from it.
“I’ll probably get chewed out a little bit, but it’ll be all right.”
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images