Entering his third different offense in three years, the newly signed wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster new he’d have his work cut out for him in Foxboro. Now knee-deep in the New England Patriots’ offseason program, Smith-Schuster feels like he’s back in his college days.
“I definitely am studying more and I am getting the offense down and the terminology is different than what I’ve learned in the past,” he told reporters at Gillette Stadium on Tuesday. “That just goes to say these coaches are really, really smart when it comes to football and just knowing the game and knowing defense terminology to that whole extent.
“Everyday I’m growing here and I think that’s what I love about being here, everyday is a new day — like I’m going to keep growing. I feel like I’m back in college or school again.”
The flashback to his studying days have brought out some of his old study habits as well. While learning the new Patriots’ offense, Smith-Schuster has relied on flashcards during his long study hours, which are broken up by Call of Duty breaks.
“After this, I’m going to go home, put a couple hours in, study, put on some Call of Duty, and then get back into studying,” he said. “I’m making flashcards. I got a lot of flashcards.
“If you saw what we study, we should get a college degree for doing that,” he then jokingly added.
The new playbook has made a strong first impression on the receiver, as well as his new offensive coordinator, Bill O’Brien.
“The playbook is amazing, honestly. It’s great,” Smith-Schuster shared. “Bill [O’Brien] is great, he’s a great coach and he makes everyone feel welcome and excited. Just happy to be apart of the team but also just ready to work.”
In addition to all his studying, Smith-Schuster has gotten quite friendly with his new teammates, specifically within the wide receiver room. Like one would with old dorm mates, Smith-Schuster and the wide receivers have spent their down time bowling, at top golf, going to Celtics games, and other bonding activities.
The talent in that wide receiver has been heavily questioned throughout the offseason, but Smith-Schuster believes the versatile group has more than enough to get the job done.
“We definitely have enough. We got guys who can run down the field, we got guys who can do a lot of different things,” he said Tuesday. “Seeing that you can have so many different weapons with these players, it just gives Mac [Jones] these opportunities to do whatever he wants.”
As for his role, many project Smith-Schuster to be used in a similar way that Jakobi Meyers was deployed throughout his time in New England. While the receiver is not worried about the specifics for now, he is ready to do anything needed to help the offense succeed.
“I love blocking, I love doing the dirty work as far as going across the middle catching the balls in traffic, whatever coach has me do I’m willing to do - no questions asked,” he explained.
As the Patriots began the second phase of their voluntary offseason program on Monday, the groundwork for the 2023 season is starting to be laid. Smith-Schuster believes it may be the start of something special.
“We have something special here,” he said. “It’s going to show. It’s going to show this year.”