Patriots Great Rodney Harrison Offers Advice To Struggling Jonnu Smith

'He's a very, very talented kid'


Jonnu Smith thus far has not been the weapon the Patriots thought they were getting when they signed him to a lucrative free agent contract.

Smith enters Week 7 with just 16 catches for 124 yards and one touchdown. His blocking hasn’t been as advertised, and he’s made some crucial mistakes in big moments. Smith currently is the 64th-ranked tight end on Pro Football Focus, well below teammate Hunter Henry, who is ranked 18th.

During an appearance Thursday on WEEI’s “Merloni & Fauria”, Patriots great Rodney Harrison offered some advice for Smith.

“I remember him when he was with the Titans,” Harrison said, as transcribed by WEEI’s Ryan Hannable. “Before I would see flashes of him as he made his way and kind of became a veteran player in this league and I used to always say, ‘The Titans don’t use him enough. The Titans don’t use him enough.’ What he’s going to have to do is he’s going to have to get to a point, forget about all the expectations and the big contract and just go out there and play. He seems like he’s fighting the ball, he’s not relaxed. The kid has so much talent and so much ability that it’s like he’s putting added pressure on himself. He’s finally got the financial security he’s looking for, this is the time just to relax and go out there and play. He doesn’t have to play scared or anything like that.

“I am looking for him to really step up because the expectations when he came here was that this dude could do a lot of different things — (create) mismatches for linebackers, safeties and even cornerbacks because he’s a very, very talented kid. He just needs to relax and play football.”

The Patriots could feature a dynamic one-two punch at tight end should Smith eventually put his struggles behind him. The 26-year-old remains incredibly athletic with a vast skill set.

Smith will look to deliver his elusive breakout performance Sunday against the New York Jets.

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