The early days of training camp have provided Patriots rookie Demario “Pop” Douglas with the opportunity to start carving out a path to NFL success

The rookie sixth-round pick has a long way to go before he even makes the Patriots’ roster, let alone becomes a serious contributor in his first season, but taking advantage of a resource exclusive to New England might give him a leg up.

“I’ve watched (wide receivers coach Troy Brown),” Douglas said Sunday, per team-provided video. “(Wes) Welker — when they play highlights they’re the ones who was on there. I watch highlights and everything that they do because they was successful. I need to see what they do to become successful.”

Douglas’ ability to draw directly from Brown is unprecedented for the Patriots. Brown essentially invented the slot position in New England, but never coached anyone who fit the archetype of an undersized, shifty player in that role. Deion Branch, Wes Welker, Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola were all essentially gone by the time Brown joined the staff in 2020, while Jakobi Meyers and JuJu Smith-Schuster represent slot options of a different build and playing style.

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It could be an opportunity for the Patriots to build a strong foundation in Douglas, who learned plenty throughout his first few training camp practices — from a number of different sources.

“(Demario) Douglas had a good spring and he’s followed it up with a few good practices here.”

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Patriots head coach Bill Belichick

“Working with (Marcus Jones), he’s been here before,” Douglas said. “He’s been in the league so he knows that the game is faster and when I’m back there with him (returning punts) he’s teaching me stuff. I knew I was going to learn from him coming from college.”

Douglas impressed throughout the week in Foxboro, serving as the only rookie wide receiver to earn first-team reps with Mac Jones on offense. His advanced status among the rookie wideouts doesn’t necessarily come from the fact that he worked with Brown and the Patriots coaching staff at the Shrine Bowl, according to Bill Belichick. Instead, it’s a string of consistency.

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“Douglas had a good spring and he’s followed it up with a few good practices here,” Belichick said Sunday, per team-provided transcript. “Again, training camp is a marathon, it’s not a 100-yard dash. So, just keep grinding them together day after day. … Everybody has got a long way to go, but we’re making progress, guys are working hard, you know, we are getting better. So, we’ll see where it goes.”

The 22-year-old seems to understand what is going to get his foot in the door, saying and doing everything right throughout the early-portion of the summer.

“I want to be able to play anywhere, because being versatile has always been in my game,” Douglas said. “I’m ready to play wherever he wants me to play, especially special teams but anywhere. You can put me anywhere and I’m ready to come play.”

Featured image via Eric Canha/USA TODAY Sports Images