FOXBORO, Mass. — Cole Strange felt at home in his first game on the (preseason) NFL stage.
Strange was the only projected New England Patriots starter to play in Thursday night’s exhibition loss to the New York Giants at Gillette Stadium, logging 14 snaps at left guard across two offensive series.
Though he’s making the sizable jump from an FCS program (Chattanooga) straight to a starting job in the pros, the first-round draft pick said he wasn’t surprised by the speed or physicality of the NFL game.
“For the two drives that I was in, I think (it went) fairly well,” Strange said. “But it’s kind of one of those things where you have to watch the film and see how you did. Because sometimes it feels a certain way but then it’s not necessarily that way when you watch it. … But you’re just playing football, so I had fun.”
A locked-in starter since the day he arrived in New England, Strange said he’s improved his game “in every way possible,” noting a few specific examples.
“In college a bunch of the time, coaches have pointed out to me, there were times where I would hesitate off the ball, I think maybe because I was thinking,” he explained. “Not all the time, but every now and then, you could see me doing that. So that’s something I?ve worked on. I feel like my technique in pass protection has gotten better just because we’ve been hammering the fundamentals. So I feel like I’ve improved in that, too.”
Head coach Bill Belichick has seen growth from Strange, as well. He said the athletic 24-year-old is “coming along and making good progress.”
“Like a lot of our young players (Thursday) night, Cole did a lot of good things,” Belichick said Friday in a virtual news conference. “You could say that about several of our rookies. There’s certainly things he can improve on, things he can recognize, and the next time he sees them, I’m sure he’ll do them better. So there’s good things, and then there’s certainly coaching points and kind of little things and technique things that the Giants did that our defense doesn’t do, or we haven’t seen from our defense that we can all learn from.
“That’s the good thing about these (preseason) games, is getting those player’s experience, to see things that we don’t do, we haven’t seen before and seeing them at game speed, and hopefully the next time we’ll be able to execute some of those things better.”
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