Practice makes perfect, as the old saying goes. It is certainly a mantra by which the New England Patriots live as well — just remember what the team’s research director, Ernie Adams, said during the NFL Films documentary Do Your Job back in 2015 when he noted that there would be no game-day players and that the foundation for good performance would instead always be built during practice.
Jakobi Meyers seems to be a confirmation of that. The undrafted rookie is arguably the biggest surprise of the Patriots’ training camp this summer and followed his outstanding practice performances with a terrific first preseason outing. Playing with the starting unit — to be fair, most of the regular starters sat out the game — he was the most productive of New England’s pass catchers on Thursday night against the Detroit Lions.
Catching six passes for a combined 69 yards and two touchdowns, the 22-year-old looked right at home in the Patriots’ offense — something he essentially confirmed during his postgame press conference: “It felt great. It felt great to play football, honestly,” the N.C. State product told reporters about his first taste of an NFL game. “I’m just trying to embrace it all, slow the game down, and continue to get better every day.”
The standout performance in his preseason debut is just the latest development this offseason that shows that he has a very good chance of being on an NFL roster this fall. But despite his underdog status as an unselected rookie, Meyers does not feel like he has anything to prove to anybody — at least to a certain degree: “I don’t have time to really think about what I have to prove to people.”
“I don’t want to say it doesn’t matter, but I have to keep proving to my coaches that I deserve to be here,” he continued while pointing out in true Patriots-speak that there is still a long way to go for him in order to actually earn a spot on the roster. “I’m not on the team yet. I’m trying to make sure I can stay here and continue to be here. That’s really who I’m trying to prove a point to, not really to people who didn’t give me the call.”
For Meyers, his success therefore is based on something else than the will to prove the so-called ‘doubters’ wrong. “The want to and listening, honestly,” he said when speaking . about the driving factors behind his success. “I want to be great and I want to be in a position where they can depend on me, trust in me on tough downs. At the same time, we have a lot of great players on our team and all I have to do is listen.”
“If I’m doing what they tell them to do, then I’ll just stick around,” he continued. Based on his first few weeks in the system and his practice performances in combination with the show he put on yesterday against the Lions, the chances of him actually sticking around appear to be quite solid — which would keep the Patriots’ streak of an undrafted rookie making the team alive for a sixteenth year.