Patriots

Patriots WR Braxton Berrios has an opportunity to build on two strong days in Detroit

Patriots WR Braxton Berrios has an opportunity to build on two strong days in Detroit

DETROIT — Phillip Dorsett remembers when Braxton Berrios was a teenager. The two were teammates at the University of Miami. Dorsett was a senior who was about to become a first-round pick. Berrios was a diminutive freshman with big-time skill who made enough of an impact that eventually he was starting. 

It wasn't always the smoothest ride to the starting lineup for Berrios, Dorsett recalled this week. But even then, it didn't take long for Dorsett to understand that his younger teammate had a mindset that would give him staying power.

Bad plays came and went. Berrios kept running routes crisply, kept getting open, kept catching footballs. It's an approach he's maintained and it's served him well this summer in his second training camp with the Patriots. 

"I think that's what makes a lot of guys in the NFL pretty good because they're able to throw those things in the back of their mind," Dorsett said. "When stuff don't go your way, you gotta have a short-term memory and go out there and make the next play. I always say, if you make the next play, the last play don't matter."

Things weren't going Berrios' way from the outset of camp. On Day 1 of practices on the fields behind Gillette Stadium, one target sent his way was picked. Another was broken up. He had a drop on Day 2. A few days later he had three targets broken up by every just about every slot corner on the depth chart — Jonthan Jones, Duke Dawson, D'Angelo Ross) — and another drop. 

Not ideal. Particularly for a receiver trying to bounce back from a season off. He spent last year on injured reserve after being drafted in the seventh round, and he bounced back this year with some strong work during OTAs and minicamp this spring. 

Even he would acknowledge that not every opportunity early in camp has gone the way he's wanted, but that mindset that suited him so well at Miami is one he continues to ply as a pro. 

"As a competitor it's tough because all you wanna do is show what you're capable of every single time," Berrios said Tuesday. "Whether it's a missed block, or a wrong route, or a drop . . . you have to learn that there is the next play. 

"You always hear that. You hear that in basketball, baseball, football. Play the next play. Don't worry about it. That's something, especially at this level, where you want to do something at such a high level and because you're here, you know you can. And it's something you have to get used to. You have to understand that, 'Hey, the guy on the other side he gets paid too. He's here for a reason too.' It's definitely something that you have to understand and take step by step."

Berrios has taken nothing but positive steps since arriving in Michigan for joint practices with the Lions this week. We highlighted his work with Tom Brady in our Postcard from Camp on Tuesday, but he was one of the team's best receivers on both days of competitive joint work with Detroit. 

He snapped off routes to create big-time separation in one-on-one periods, connecting with Brady five times in those situations over two days. Brady completed five more passes to Berrios in hurry-up periods. On one of their last hook-ups, Berrios ended up in the end zone, and Brady chased him down for a celebratory head-butt. 

On Thursday night, Berrios likely won't be working alongside Brady since many Patriots starters aren't expected to play. But he should see some early reps — he was taking first-team snaps with Dorsett and undrafted rookie Jakobi Meyers in Wednesday's walkthrough — at Ford Field and he'll have an opportunity to continue to put good moments on tape. 

It's still plenty early. Though he has his work cut out for him as he battles for a roster spot with the likes of Meyers and Maurice Harris — two of the most impressive Patriots receivers in camp — there are about three more weeks of work left for Berrios to show the Patriots that he's worth a shot at the active roster. Not only might he be next-in-line to fill the low-cut slot receiver job they've had every year since Troy Brown's prime, but he could provide some value as a punt-returner as well. 

Berrios isn't getting that far ahead of himself. He knows there will continue to be ups and downs. How he responds is all he's worried about. 

"You gotta come out here and you gotta perform at a certain level every single day," he said. "Some days you might exceed it. Some days you might fall short. But everything's a lesson. Getting a little bit better each day. Not making the same mistake twice. . . . That's the goal."

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Patriots confirm coaching changes, front office promotions for 2020 season

Patriots confirm coaching changes, front office promotions for 2020 season

The puzzle pieces of the New England Patriots' coaching staff and front office have fallen into place.

The Patriots saw turnover in both departments this offseason, as longtime offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia retired while director of college scouting Monti Ossenfort joined the Houston Texans as their director of player personnel.

The club also welcomed some new faces, including former Los Angeles Rams offensive assistant Jedd Fisch (the team's new quarterbacks coach) and ex-Cleveland Browns executive Eliot Wolf.

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So, how have the coaching staff and front office changed since last season? The Patriots have unveiled their 2020 media guide, which confirmed the new roles of several staffers.

Here's a rundown of the notable changes:

- Troy Brown officially is on staff as a running backs and kick returners coach. The former Patriots wide receiver will work with head running backs coach Ivan Fears and special teams assistant Joe Houston.

- Director of pro scouting Dave Ziegler has been promoted to assistant director of player personnel, reporting to director of player personnel Nick Caserio. He'll essentially fill Ossenfort's former role.

- Tyler Hughes, who reportedly joined the team in June, is listed as an "offensive assistant." Hughes most recently was the head coach at Bountiful (Utah) High School.

- Vinnie Sunseri joins the Patriots as a defensive assistant after spending the 2019 season as a graduate assistant for Nick Saban at Alabama. Sunseri had a brief stint in New England as a player during 2016 training camp.

- Wolf's official title is "scouting consultant." He served as Cleveland's assistant general manager in 2018 and 2019 after 14 seasons with the Green Bay Packers.

The Patriots go through personnel changes every year, but 2020 presents a unique challenge: Not only has COVID-19 prevented staff members from meeting in-person, but the club has lost a lengthy list of core veterans to free agency (Tom Brady, Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins, etc.) and opt-outs (Dont'a Hightower, Patrick Chung, Marcus Cannon, etc.) this offseason.

Head coach Bill Belichick isn't one to make excuses, though, so expect his staff to be hard at work this week as the Patriots begin on-field training camp work at Gillette Stadium.

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NFL opt-outs: Complete list of players who won't play in 2020 season

NFL opt-outs: Complete list of players who won't play in 2020 season

NFL training camps officially began Tuesday, but there were some notable absences.

Kansas City Chiefs offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif became the first NFL player to opt out of the 2020 season last Friday, citing health concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Since then, multiple players have followed suit, continuing a trend across all major North American professional sports of players declining to participate in their seasons as COVID-19 persists in the United States.

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The Patriots especially have felt the impact of this trend: Six New England players -- including star linebacker Dont'a Hightower -- already have opted out, the most of any NFL team.

Below is a running list of the players who have opted out of the 2020 NFL season, according to reports or team/player confirmations. The list is sorted alphabetically after the Patriots, with the date of the players' opt-outs in parentheses.

New England Patriots

RB Brandon Bolden (July 28)
OT Marcus Cannon (July 28)
S Patrick Chung (July 28)
LB Dont'a Hightower (July 28)
WR Marqise Lee (August 1)
OG Najee Toran (July 27)
FB Danny Vitale (July 27)
TE Matt LaCosse (August 2)

Arizona Cardinals

OT Marcus Gilbert (August 4)

Baltimore Ravens

OT Andre Smith (July 28)
WR/KR De'Anthony Thomas (July 27)

Buffalo Bills

CB E.J. Gaines (August 2)
DT Star Lotulelei (July 28)

Carolina Panthers

LB Jordan Mack (July 28)
LB Christian Miller (August 3)

Chicago Bears

DT Eddie Goldman (July 28)
S Jordan Lucas (August 3)

Cincinnati Bengals

OT Isaiah Prince (July 31)
DT Josh Tupou (July 31)

Cleveland Browns

DT Andrew Billings (August 4)
OL Drake Dorbeck (July 29)
OL Drew Forbes (July 29)

Dallas Cowboys

CB Maurice Canady (July 27)
WR Stephen Guidry (July 28)
FB Jamize Olawale (Aug. 2)

Denver Broncos

OT JaWuan James (Aug. 3)
DT Kyle Peko (July 28)

Detroit Lions

DT John Atkins (July 29)
WR Geronimo Allison (Aug. 2)

Green Bay Packers

WR Devin Funchess (July 28)

Houston Texans

DT Eddie Vanderdoes (July 28)

Jacksonville Jaguars

EDGE Larentee McCray (August 1)
DL Al Woods (July 31)

Kansas City Chiefs

OG Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (July 24)
RB Damien Williams (July 29)

Las Vegas Raiders

CB D.J. Killings (August 3)
DE Jeremiah Valoaga (August 3)

Los Angeles Rams

OT Chandler Brewer (July 31)

Miami Dolphins

WR Allen Hurns (August 4)

Minnesota Vikings

NT Michael Pierce (July 28)

New Orleans Saints

TE Jason Vander Laan (July 28)
TE Cole Wick (July 28)

New York Giants

WR Da'Mari Scott (August 2)
LT Nate Solder (July 29)

New York Jets

OL Leo Koloamatangi (July 28)
LB CJ Mosley (August 1)

Philadelphia Eagles

WR Marquise Goodwin (July 28)

Seattle Seahawks

OG Chance Warmack (July 27)

Tennessee Titans

OL Anthony McKinney (July 28)

Washington Football Team

DT Caleb Brantley (July 27)
LB Josh Harvey-Clemons (August 3)

Free Agents

G Larry Warford (July 28)