HENDERSON, Nev. — The Patriots receiving corps has generated plenty of headlines throughout training camp.
DeVante Parker, perhaps the top talent in the group, has added a sorely needed downfield element to New England’s passing game. Kendrick Bourne and Nelson Agholor both have popped up in trade rumors, with the former thus far turning in a disappointing camp. Rookie Tyquan Thornton looked like a potential difference-maker before suffering an injury. Even Lil’Jordan Humphrey has enjoyed some standout moments, especially last Friday against the Carolina Panthers.
And then there’s Jakobi Meyers, who quietly has kept doing his Jakobi Meyers thing, which is to say he’s been a consistently open, reliable and productive target for Mac Jones. Despite leading the Patriots in both receptions and receiving yards last season, Meyers somehow entered his fourth NFL training camp as a relative afterthought.
And yet, all he’s done this summer is be New England’s best receiver — perhaps because he is.
That trend continued Wednesday when Meyers excelled during the second joint practice between the Patriots and Las Vegas Raiders. No, he wasn’t quite as impressive as Davante Adams — who is, anyway? — but Meyers nevertheless was the top performer on what was a good, needed day for the Patriots offense.
The 25-year-old caught five of his six targets during 11-on-11 drills, including a pair of excellent, over-the-shoulder touchdown receptions. Both plays drew strong reactions from Jones, who praised Meyers during a post-practice news conference.
“Yeah, he’s a really smart football player,” Jones said. “He’s been one of my close friends since I’ve gotten here, and I trust him. We see the game the same way, sometimes without even talking about it. So, we’re just working on growing together and making our repertoire a little better, with what he sees, how can he help me, how can I help him. Hopefully, we can grow together here.
“He’s just a tough, smart football player. I’ll take him on my team — forever, hopefully.”
There’s nothing flashy about Meyers’ game. He’s neither the fastest nor most athletic receiver on the field, but he makes up for it with savvy route-running and a great work ethic.
“I think all he’s been doing is just working hard and making the plays that come his way,” Nelson Agholor said. “I mean, we know what kind of player he is: He’s tough, he’s consistent. And I thought today was another example of him being himself — making the plays that come his way.”
It’s no secret that the Patriots offense has struggled during training camp. However, things would be even worse if not for Meyers, who easily leads New England in catches during competitive periods. Even when things are going poorly, which they often have this summer, Jones usually can count on Meyers when he needs to make a play.
Perhaps that’s why Meyers has developed an unfair reputation as a glorified security blanket. He’s much more than that, and has transformed himself from undrafted rookie to the most productive receiver on the Patriots roster.
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