Say what you will about the New England Patriots’ wide receiver corps — and it’s all been said — but they have a pretty capable fill-in ready to step up in Jakobi Meyers.
After N’Keal Harry left the Patriots’ Week 7 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, Meyers led the team with four catches for 60 yards. He immediately became quarterback Cam Newton’s favorite target, and that really didn’t come as a major surprise to anyone who has been paying attention. Meyers was actually better than Harry when they were rookies in training camp last summer, and that continued into the 2019 season when he outpaced the first-round pick with 26 catches for 359 yards.
Meyers dealt with a shoulder injury in training camp this summer and tumbled down the depth chart, but now he’s ready to take on a bigger role with Julian Edelman (knee) out and Harry (concussion) unlikely to play Week 8 against the Buffalo Bills.
“I definitely don’t want my guys to be injured or hurt, and I’m not exactly sure what’s going on with everybody, but I just pray for their safety and I hope they bounce back soon, because we definitely miss them already,” Meyers said Thursday. “But I’m definitely excited for the opportunity, I’m going to do my best to put my best foot forward and continue to try to play the way I know I can play.”
Meyers is an ideal No. 4 receiver because of his ability to play outside and in the slot. If Harry can’t suit up, then Meyers and Damiere Byrd will likely play on the outside in two-receiver sets. When a third receiver — either Gunner Olszewski or a practice squad call-up — takes the field, then Meyers could move inside to the slot.
“As soon as I got here one of the things I heard the most was the more you can do, and I kind of just tried to show everybody I can do multiple things and I can be reliable at different positions,” Meyers said. “I’m not exactly where I want to be but I feel like I’ve taken a couple of good steps forward, just from last year to this year, being able to learn all the different positions and show that I can go out and use different skillsets to compete in different spots.”
Meyers learned as a freshman at North Carolina State that he needs to be ready for any opportunity that could be thrown his way. So, it makes sense that Meyers made it a priority to learn all receiver positions when he got to the NFL.
“My whole career has been based off change, honestly,” Meyers said. “I was a quarterback, so I had to be able to learn. I switched to receiver two weeks before my redshirt freshman season started, so I had to be able to learn fast if I wanted to be able to play, otherwise, I was going to get left behind. From that moment on I just realized how fast the game can come, how fast it can change and just being ready for every moment.”
Byrd, Meyers and Olszewski are the only healthy wide receivers on the Patriots’ 53-man depth chart. The Patriots also have Isaiah Zuber, Kristian Wilkerson and Mason Kinsey on their practice squad. A starting role is Meyers’ to lose until Harry and Edelman return.