FOXBORO, Mass. — Hunter Henry knew how Patriots rookie Demario Douglas must have felt after his costly Week 2 fumble.

Why? Because Henry experienced the exact same setback in his first NFL season.

In his third game as a San Diego Chargers rookie in 2016, Henry coughed the ball up late in a narrow loss. It was a humbling and motivating moment for the tight end, and it helped shape the rest of his career.

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Henry now is in his third season with New England and his first as a team captain. He shared that story with Douglas, whose first-quarter fumble in Sunday’s loss to the Miami Dolphins essentially got him benched for the rest of the game.

“I actually talked to him on Monday and told him a similar story to me, actually,” Henry said Wednesday. “Third game of my career is the first game I’m starting. Antonio Gates, I was backing him up basically, but he got hurt. I’m starting, had a pretty good game against the Indianapolis Colts.

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“We have this two-minute drive, we’re down maybe two, and all I need is a field goal. I run a really good route, there was about a minute left in the game, I catch the ball and I get down the field. I make the first guy miss, but I’m looking at the next guy and not thinking about what’s going on, and the ball gets poked out from behind.

“I lost the game for our team in a two-minute drive situation. That was my rookie year, third game of the year, and it really woke me up to this level and humbled me a lot, and I learned a lot. I realized that I needed to hold onto the ball a little bit tighter.

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“So I kind of conveyed that to him. I’m going on my eighth year now, and I think I’ve only had one other fumble in maybe eight years.”

Henry’s right: In the 87 games he played since that mishap in Indy, he fumbled just once. And even that one (in a 2019 loss to Minnesota) was “a little bit questionable,” he said. Henry also quickly rebounded from his early error. Over the next three games, he caught 13 passes for 218 yards and the first three touchdowns of his pro career.

“It was definitely a motivating factor that week,” he said. “I was excited to get back out there on Sunday.”

Douglas will be eyeing a similar bounce-back when the Patriots visit the New York Jets this Sunday. Though he’s only a sixth-round rookie, the undersized Liberty product already looks like New England’s most explosive pass-catcher, boasting eye-popping quickness and juice that made him an instant standout in his first NFL training camp.

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Despite playing just six offensive snaps and catching two passes against Miami, Douglas ranked second on the team in yards after the catch, per Pro Football Focus, trailing only DeVante Parker. He only played on punt returns after his fumble.

“Pop’s a great player,” Henry said, echoing earlier comments by offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien. “We need him. He’s going to learn from this. He’s going to learn a lot from it. I enjoy going out there and competing with him. He’s done a lot of great things for us, and I know he will.”

Featured image via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images