FOXBORO, Mass. — One of the stars of last year’s New England Patriots preseason now is fighting for his place on the team.
A year after posting the best numbers of any Patriots receiver in training camp and exhibition games, Jakobi Meyers has lagged behind this summer, putting his roster spot in serious jeopardy.
Meyers, one of two undrafted rookie wideouts (along with Gunner Olszewski) to make the Patriots’ 53-man roster in 2019, largely was invisible during the early stages of his second NFL training camp, then suffered a shoulder injury that kept him out of team drills for six consecutive practices.
Meyers eventually rejoined the fray late in camp — and had his best showing of the summer Sunday, catching four passes on five targets in 11-on-11 drills — but has yet to shed the red non-contact jersey he’s sported in the last four practices.
“Of course I?m frustrated not being out there competing every day and being able to get reps in,” Meyers said after Sunday’s session, which marked the final time the Patriots will practice in front of reporters in 2020. “But I want to focus on what I can do, rather than what I couldn?t do. It?s not an excuse for me to check out because I?m not on the field.
“I have to be there mentally. The game isn?t just physical. So what I can compete in, that?s what I want to do, as far as being there for film or mental reps, just taking advantage of every opportunity I have. Because the game isn?t going to wait on me to get back. I’ve just got to keep up as best as I can.”
Despite his highly publicized communication issues with Tom Brady and modest final stat line (26-359-0 in 15 games), Meyers was the Patriots’ second-most reliable wideout last season behind star Julian Edelman. Entering camp, the 23-year-old appeared to have solid odds of keeping his spot in a receiving corps that did not make any high-profile offseason additions.
That outlook has changed.
Olszewski now looks like a safe bet to make the roster as a wideout/punt returner after an excellent camp, and veteran newcomer Damiere Byrd brings some needed speed to this position group. Byrd’s lack of success on deep balls this summer has been mildly concerning, but he’s stayed healthy in camp and seems to have a solid connection with quarterback Cam Newton, his former Carolina Panthers teammate.
Even 2019 practice squadder Devin Ross presented a stronger case than Meyers in training camp, though he faded after a hot start.
With Julian Edelman and N’Keal Harry both roster locks and Mohamed Sanu not far behind, there simply might not be space for Meyers on the 2020 Patriots. The young receiver has another four days to prove his worth ahead of Saturday’s cutdown deadline.
“I just want to be the best Jakobi Meyers I can be,” Meyers said. “Just show I?m reliable and just show that I?m improving. They don?t want somebody that?s going to be stagnant, or someone that?s going to be up and down.
“They want somebody that?s going to be a consistent product, every time they go on the field, they know what they?re going to get out of him.”
Thumbnail photo via New England Patriots