FOXBORO -- The approach Mike Gillislee takes to his job makes sense. A backup for the vast majority of his first four years in the NFL, he has developed an almost over-eager attitude coming out of the backfield.


"Every running back is different, but for me, I try to score," Gillislee said. "You know, opportunities in my career, I've barely gotten them. But now, every time I get the ball, I'm trying to score."

His average was pretty good in Week 1 against the Chiefs. On 15 carries, he scored three times, all of them from two yards out or closer. But there were moments when maybe Gillislee might've been better off looking for a sharply-lined single to the opposite field as opposed gearing up for an awe-inspiring moon shot. 

One play that stood out from Week 1 was Gillislee's off-tackle run with 10:23 remaining in the third quarter. Left guard Joe Thuney pulled and sealed one defender while fullback James Develin led the way to take out another. Instead of waiting a beat and allowing a hole to develop, Gillislee tried to bounce the run outside and lost four yards. 

"There were some things I looked at on film that I could see I could do better," Gillislee said this week. "Just perfecting the schemes. Every running play, every passing play, it's schemed the way that coach wants and the way that it works." 

There's a fine line between patience and aggressiveness as an NFL back, Gillislee explained.


In short-yardage situations, the get-it-and-go approach is ideal. "I'm not waiting," Gillislee said. "I'm trying to hit it." That's exactly what he tried to do on both fourth-and-one runs last week that failed when the line in front of him was unable to create much in the way of running room.

But on first and second down? There may be a little more leeway there, and Gillislee indicated that having a feel for the timing of how the play will develop in front of him can help him adjust one way or the other.

Gillislee he has done what he can to ensure that he's up on that timing, running drills with his teammates, talking to them in the locker room about what they see in certain situations. But he missed a large chunk of training camp with a hamstring issue and there still may be work to do in that regard.

From Gillislee's perspective, any ground they have to make up isn't necessarily a result of missed practice time -- "I wouldn't directly point to that," he said -- but he acknowledged the chemistry between him and his linemen can always improve with practice repetitions.

"Just getting those reps, developing those reps, me gaining their trust," Gillislee said, "I think it's going to come."

There should be opportunities for Gillislee to do some damage against the Saints on Sunday as they gave up 127 yards rushing to Vikings rookie runner Dalvin Cook in their Week 1 loss.