Short week? Walkthrough practice before the Patriots play the Football Team on Thursday night? Is it too soon for me to go back to the Jakobi Meyers well after writing so eloquently about him over the weekend?
Maybe it is. But I’m going back into the well anyway. Because after Tuesday’s languidly paced workout in the stadium, Meyers felt to me like the best place to follow-up on the loving things Troy Brown said about him last week. We also hit on why his damn hands are so strong, how come his footwork’s so tidy and what Tom Brady meant to him.
Brady, you’ll remember, was here for Meyers’ rookie year in 2019. But the kismet the undrafted rookie from NC State had that year with Jarrett Stidham in training camp and preseason was never really matched when he went to the AP Level course of working with Brady.
Maybe you remember the game in Houston that season when Brady popped a gasket on the sidelines after a pick on a ball intended for N’Keal Harry and a communication breakdown with Meyers.
After that game, Harry deflected. Meyers, on the other hand, accepted.
“You only get so many chances, so many opportunities before you’re out of here," Meyers reiterated after that loss to the Texans. "So if he wants me to go up, next time I’d better go up before my number is called.”
Such a smart, self-aware answer. Maybe that self-awareness, that ability to be really blunt with himself, is what’s allowed Meyers to become so good, so fast. You hear the words, “He’s a sponge …” constantly when veteran players talk about young Patriot teammates. In Meyers' case, it’s more than just a trite expression. He came in knowing he knew jack. And he’s continued to operate with an “I know nothing, please teach me …” approach.
That hard teaching he got with Brady? Meyers is happy he had it.
“I had to learn fast,” he said. “I didn't really have an excuse. That was a guy who'd been playing for two decades, you know what I mean? I didn't get the liberty of, 'Oh, he'll catch on one day.' I came in with a first-round receiver, N'Keal. Tom Brady, future Hall of Famer. I had to pick it up real fast or I wouldn't be here long. It definitely pushed the tempo and I'm happy it worked out the way it did.”
Meyers may be in a more secure position than he was two years ago. But he’s not comfortable with where he is.
“I feel like I showed enough to stay around for a third year but I don't feel like I proved anything yet, honestly,” he said. “I still feel like I got a long way to go. (The 2020 season) was just a taste, an appetizer, honestly. I didn't really do enough to say, 'Yeah, I'm solidified. I don't need to play in the preseason.' Or, 'I'm solidified, I don't need to go as hard as the other guys are going.' I'm still trying to show everybody how hard I work, how good I can be and hopefully I still got a lot of room to grow.”
Meyers was a multi-sport athlete growing up and played quarterback into college before getting switched to wideout. That, in part, is why he has room to grow. He’s still a little new to the spot. But, Meyers says, those other sports helped him become the receiver he is.
When I asked about his hands – he snatches the ball with a quick jab of his paws like a striking viper – he first credited “hard work.”
Then he added, “It definitely is other sports. I'm a big rice bucket kinda guy. I like to dig in rice or squeeze clamps. I do that a lot. And, like I said, I played baseball for a long time. Since I was probably 3 years old. Baseball plus the rice bucket and the clamps, I feel like that helped me out a lot.”
Meyers played shortstop which helped with his ability to chop his steps, he said. “Going left and right is kind of what I did (in baseball). When it came to receiver, and being a quarterback, I just worked in the short area. Everything was in a real tight area. Being a slot receiver is kind of the same thing for me.”
Brown, the Patriots wide receivers coach, said Meyers learned a lot from watching Julian Edelman. Meyers countered that Brown was the first in the line of slot machines in New England.
“I think Troy might've sold himself short there. We all got it from Troy Brown, honestly,” said Meyers. “He's the originator of the little inside route game. The Patriots inside route game, a lot of that is credited to Troy. Yeah, I do watch Jules, but Jules probably watched Troy. Or he watched Wes. It's been a long line of slot guys. Honestly, if you want the answers, all you gotta do is just look before you. There's Hall of Famers before me. Just pay attention to them guys, and they give me everything I need.”