FOXBORO – With no OTAs, no minicamps, no preseason games and an abbreviated training camp, nobody has to convince a player like Devin Ross that every rep should be treasured.
But someone did anyway.
“My receiver coach (Mick Lombardi) mentioned that every rep we get is like a piece of gold and I took that to heart,” said the Patriots wideout who's trying hard to make an impression in training camp. "I feel like it’s a true statement. Every time you get a chance to go out there it’s a great opportunity to be able to put something great out there and make a name for yourself and show your coaches and teammates what you can do.”
On the first two days of full-contact practices this week, Ross did exactly that.
Monday, he hauled in a deep ball from Brian Hoyer, laying out to make a catch on the right sideline. On Tuesday, he brought in another deep ball from Hoyer, this one on the left sideline that Ross had to track over his shoulder and bring in despite tight coverage from Jason McCourty.
Ross is slight. And his chances of making the 53-man roster may be as well. But he’s doing everything he can so far to make sure he sticks out and sticks with the Patriots.
“Devin’s a hardworking kid,” Bill Belichick said on a video conference prior to Wednesday’s practice. “I think when we got him last year (after being released from the Eagles practice squad), I’m not sure that he was 100 percent healthy. (This season) I think he’s gained – plus he’s had an offseason, even though it’s not been supervised in the building, it’s still been supervised training. I think that he’s improved from this year to last year. We’ll see how things go here, but yeah, he looks like he’s ready to go and ready to compete, and we’ll see how that all comes together.”
There’s a lot to be settled in the Patriots wide receivers room. Julian Edelman and N’Keal Harry are locks. Mohamed Sanu, because of his resume, figures to be there as well. Then there’s Jakobi Meyers, Damiere Byrd, Gunner Olszewski and Ross.
The 5-foot-9, 190-pound Ross went undrafted in 2018 and bounced from the Titans to the Eagles before landing with the Patriots. He’s been with the team since last October. His calling card is quickness (6.94 3-cone and a 4.24 20-yard shuttle) and a willingness to fight for the ball.
Asked on a video conference after Wednesday’s workout if he felt pressure to make plays in camp knowing opportunities may be scarce, Ross said, “Preparation meets opportunity at this point. I’ve been preparing since last season for opportunities like this and camp in general. So when the ball’s in the air it’s like I’m training with my quarterbacks back home in LA. It’s me and the ball and the ball has to be mine no matter what. That’s the mindset of a receiver in general. Attack the ball, attack every opportunity you get … you have to do everything you can in that moment.”
When Ross speaks of his approach to the game, it’s clear he isn’t taking the “happy to be here” approach at all. He is happy to be here, but he also has no doubt whether or not he belongs.
“I come to the line every time out of the huddle with the mindset that no one can match me or cover me,” he said. “That’s the mindset I always come to the game with. I just feel like I want to be the best player I can so I come to the line with complete confidence, 110 percent. I know that I’ve prepared well and I’m just ready to go at all times, I’ve just got that chip on my shoulder. I feel like it’s me vs. me.”
So far in this camp, he’s winning.