Patriots

After six stops in less than a year, Lucien working hard to stick with Pats

After six stops in less than a year, Lucien working hard to stick with Pats

FOXBORO -- Thursday's preseason opener wasn't a showcase for the Patriots wide receivers by any stretch. There were moments of great competency but, with the velocity-challenged Brian Hoyer taking most of the snaps, it wasn't an aerial circus.

But the wideout who made the most of his opportunities against Washington was Devin Lucien. He had a team-high 71 yards on four catches (six targets).

Another catch came on a little in-cut and required a well-executed hands catch on a ball that was away from his body.

Also impressive was the block he threw on running back Ralph Webb's first touchdown when he got into a Washington defender and walked him through the end zone, sealing the edge for Webb.

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"We were taught to make sure we leave one," Lucien explained, referring to the process of selecting a defender to block and leaving the other for the back to beat 1-on-1. "I ended up getting the linebacker. The linebacker, I tried to push him into the other dude that I was supposed to get and it ended up being a touchdown for Ralph. When you've got people like Julian (Edelman) and them blocking like they do all the time, you just kind of do your best like they do."

It was a helluva block and the kind of play that will earn Lucien notice as much as the pre-halftime catches.

Getting noticed has not been an issue for Lucien since he was drafted by the Patriots in the seventh round in 2016. Getting a toehold has been an issue.

After being cut at the end of camp as a rookie, the Patriots were able to re-sign Lucien and have him on the practice squad that year. But an injury at the end of camp last year caused the Patriots to put him on IR. They then released him from IR after an injury settlement. And Lucien went on an odyssey from New England to Indianapolis to Kansas City to Houston to Tampa Bay. He finished 2017 on the Bucs roster but was released in May. The Patriots picked him up again.

He's made six stops in less than a year. He still has no regular-season NFL statistics.

"We're glad to get him back this year," Belichick said after Thursday's game. "He's made some good plays in practice and he made some good plays tonight. He gained some experience in several organizations and I'm sure those places were a good learning experience for him."

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Lucien acknowledged that things went pretty OK against Washington.

"I felt like it was a good way to start," he said. "A good way to start the preseason. I know there is a lot to work on both as a group and individually. I'm just trying to do that and do my best during the preseason and the regular season if I'm blessed enough to be around."

Asked if he'd be able to take a satisfied breath after his performance, Lucien indicated he wouldn't.

"I'm actually going to be looking at the Philadelphia Eagles (the Patriots Game 2 opponent)," he said. "I'll see what I did wrong but after that, I'm working on Philly. You can't wait, especially here. You can't focus on the past at all. It's on to the present and the future."

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How well does Tom Brady play against former Patriots coaches?

How well does Tom Brady play against former Patriots coaches?

The Patriots will face the Detroit Lions Sunday night in the Pats latest matchup against a former Bill Belichick assistant. The Lions hired Matt Patricia after the defensive guru spent 14 seasons under Belichick in New England. But so far, Patricia and the Lions are off to a rough start (0-2), and it could get worse -- it's been well-established that former Belichick pupils have struggled against the Patriots. 

TOM E. CURRAN'S HARD TRUTHS

But what about Tom Brady against Patriots assistants-turned-head coaches? Patricia will be the fifth former coach Brady will face, joining Eric Mangini, Romeo Crennel, Bill O'Brien, and Josh McDaniels. Patricia will join Mangini and Crennel as former defensive coordinators to scheme against Brady, while O'Brien and McDaniels went from calling plays for Brady to trying to stop him. Who has the advantage, Brady or his coaches?

VS. ERIC MANGINI

Belichick first discovered Mangini as a ball boy in Cleveland. Mangini eventually became New England's defensive coordinator for a season before accepting the head coaching job with the New York Jets. Because he was in the AFC East, Brady played Mangini the most of any former coach. Brady and the Pats went 4-2 in the regular season and 1-0 in the postseason against Mangini's Jets. Mangini's defenses picked Brady four times in those six games, but Brady still threw nine touchdowns. He completed 116 of his 190 pass attempts (61 percent) for 1,346 yards.

As head coach of the Browns in 2010, Mangini's team beat Brady and the Pats 34-14 for one of their five victories that season. Brady went 19-for-36 for 224 yards and two TDs in that game.

VS. ROMEO CRENNEL

The defensive coordinator for the Patriots' first three Super Bowl champion squads had no answers for Brady and the New England offense in a matchup against the Browns in 2007. The 2007 NFL MVP completed 22 of 38 passing attempts (58 percent) for 265 yards, three TDs, and zero interceptions. 

VS. BILL O'BRIEN

Bill O'Brien called plays for the Patriots from 2009 to 2011, but is probably most known in New England for his infamous yelling match with Brady on the sidelines during a game in 2011. O'Brien is now in his fifth season as the coach of the Houston Texans and his defenses -- which, for the record, have been very good -- have had absolutely no success against Brady. The Patriots are 3-0 in regular-season games and 1-0 in the postseason when Brady starts against O'Brien. Brady threw for 1,168 yards in those four games, completing 91 of 142 passes (64 percent) and throwing 12 TDs and just three interceptions. 

VS. JOSH MCDANIELS

McDaniels, who is in his second stint as the Patriots offensive coordinator, has a great relationship with Brady, as shown in Brady's Facebook docu-series Tom vs. Time. But in 2009, the two faced off against each other when in McDaniels' first season as Broncos head coach. McDaniels got the win in overtime, but Brady played solid. He was 19 of 33 (58 percent) for 215 yards, with two TDs and no picks. 

OVERALL

It's been business as usual for Brady against his former coaches, with a record of 8-3 in the regular season and 2-0 in the playoffs. In those 13 games, he completed 61 percent of his passes for 3,218 yards, 28 TDs and seven interceptions. Brady will look to continue his success against Patricia this weekend, as the Patriots look to get back on track with a win.

-- Will Lefkovich

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