For the second straight days on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium, it was Jonnu Smith who stole the show. After an acrobatic touchdown catch on Thursday, Smith one-upped his performance with a highlight-reel touchdown snag Friday, going vertical over Kyle Dugger.
After recording 28 receptions in his first campaign with the New England Patriots, Smith appears to be getting off to a strong start in Year 2.
“With experience and with time a lot of things come more natural,” Smith said after practice Friday. “Time is just so important in so many aspects of life. When you get time you have the opportunity and advantages of progressing in whatever area it is you want to progress in, so that’s just the mindset I take to it.”
In the second season of a four-year, $50 million contract, getting the versatile Smith more involved in the Patriots’ passing attack would do wonders for quarterback Mac Jones and the offense. With New England’s offense undergoing a “streamline” process throughout the offseason, the hope is that Smith’s impact will increase in 2022.
“I don’t care where they put me, that’s always been my M.O. I’m a team guy whatever the team needs to win that’s what I’ll do,” Smith said. “I just got to continue to do what I can do to execute. If all 11 guys execute we going to have positive results, we have the talent on our side of the ball to do that so I’m confident in whatever they call.”
Despite inking both Smith and Hunter Henry to large contracts last offseason, the Patriots struggled to get both opportunities through the air. However, through three training camp practices, New England has found more ways to get them more looks — perhaps the result of coaching and offensive changes.
While it is a positive sign to see both Smith and Henry impress in training camp, the 26-year-old knows none of it matters unless the execution carries onto the field.
“Whenever things change there’s always going to be some different things, but none of that matters if you don't execute,” he said. “There’s not too many plays that you can be drawn up in the NFL that nobody hasn’t seen already so it’s just about going out there and executing and doing that everyday on a consistent basis.”