Patriots

Jacob Hollister 'proud and happy' to be part of Patriots 53-man roster

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Jacob Hollister 'proud and happy' to be part of Patriots 53-man roster

Jacob Hollister proved he wasn’t a one-hit wonder, at least not in this summer. The undrafted rookie tight end burst onto the scene with a 116-yard receiving night in the preseason opener versus Jacksonville, but followed it up by continuing to make plays in training camp, joint practices and one more time, in the preseason finale Thursday against the Giants. That’s why he never got that phone call or tap on the shoulder yesterday when the Patriots cut their roster to 53 men.

“It was just craziness,” said Hollister, recalling the day. “Really excited. Worked my butt off with my teammates and it’s such a blessing to be a part of this organization. I’m really proud and happy.”

Hollister didn’t know what to expect yesterday. It was just wait and see and hope and pray.

“Pretty much don’t want to get news, I guess,” said the Oregon native. “This was my first time, my first go around. I was just kind of waiting around. You go into meetings and if you don’t get called…I was happy not to get some news.”

Hollister’s twin brother, Cody, wasn’t as lucky, at least not on the initial cut down day. A wideout who battled a shoulder injury for a couple weeks to start camp, Cody made a late run at a spot, and maybe did enough to impress the Pats coaching staff to want to continue working with him (i.e. practice squad). Jacob may have hinted at such a move when I asked him if making the team was bittersweet considering what happened to his brother.

“A little bit but we both came into knowing that that’s part of it and that this is a business at the end of the day,” said Jacob, continuing, “but we’ll find out here in a little bit what’s going to be official for him. But he’s really happy for me and I'm really happy for him and we’ll just move on and see what happens today.”

What happens from here could be out of either Hollister’s hands, depending on injuries or other players that may become available in the coming days and weeks. But one thing is certain to Jacob: if he does what’s expected, Belichick doesn’t care where or how you were acquired. Proof is once again in the pudding, with four undrafted players making the roster.

“I feel like definitely have known it’s not how you get here, it’s what you do when you’re here,” said Hollister, a Wyoming product. “That’s something coach Belichick made clear the first day we got here and I knew that if I put the work in, and I put what i needed to on film, and got the guys to trust me and everything like that then I’d have a good chance.”

One he made the most of.

Julio Jones presents Johnson Bademosi opportunity to prove he's not niche player

Julio Jones presents Johnson Bademosi opportunity to prove he's not niche player

None of us thought Johnson Bademosi would be starting this past Sunday at MetLife Stadium against the Jets because -- well -- that’s not what we perceive the 27-year-old to be. He’s a special teamer. It’s how he’s made his mark in the NFL dating back to 2012 with Cleveland. So why would that change in mid-October for a team he’s only been with for six weeks? Because Bademosi is -- and has always been -- intent on proving he’s more than a niche player.

“I see myself as a football player,” he said, “and whatever position they put me in, I’m going to try to be the best because that’s how I operate and who I am as a person. Whether that’s as a cornerback, on special teams, if they ask me to play wildcat quarterback. Whatever…”

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Bill Belichick and his staff asked for Bademosi to go on the field and not come off. He played 73 defensive snaps in addition to his usual core four special teams duties. 

“I felt like I played a whole game,” Bademosi joked, before saying, “I love playing football so I’m going to go out there and empty myself.”

He did just that, getting targeted only two times in the 24-17 win over the Jets. It was hoped that Bademosi would return to his normal specialist role, but with Stephon Gilmore still out with a concussion, it now seems more and more likely that the sixth year pro will have to be an ironman again Sunday night in primetime against the Falcons. Historically, the Pats have defended bigger receivers. That means Bademosi may be responsible for one of the most dangerous players in the league, Julio Jones.

“He’s an amazing player," he said. “We all know what he’s capable of. As a defense, we have to be prepared for him.”

The Pats were on Super Bowl Sunday and Jones still made a couple of ridiculous plays with either Logan Ryan or Eric Rowe in coverage with safety help over the top.

“He’s fast. He’s physical. He can jump. He can run. He’s smart. He’s everything you want in a wide receiver,” said Bademosi without blinking an eye. That’s the kind of confidence you want from a player at that position and facing this type of challenge. 

“You gotta believe in yourself,” he said “ I’m confident in my abilities. I work hard and trust my preparation.”

Being an elite athlete certainly helps. Bademosi was a scholarship football player at Stanford -- “some guy named Jim Harbaugh called” -- before ending up in the NFL. But it’s Bademosi’s willingness to go all in in the film room that impressed safety Devin McCourty. 

“…I think, honestly, the most work he did was probably with just himself jumping into the film, watching more stuff to exactly see,” said McCourty Thursday. “You know, when you’re a backup more, you’re kind of trying to see everything because you don’t know what role you might be thrust upon once you’re in the game. But, I think once he knew he was starting, it was kind of like, ‘Alright, let me focus in on this.’ I thought he did an awesome job of just being ready and competing.”

Bademosi will have to compete his ass off Sunday night, even against what has been to this point a physically compromised Jones. Based on what he did several days ago, there’s no reason to believe the Pats cornerback won’t bring everything he has, trying to prove again that he’s more than just a special teams whiz.

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