FOXBORO – Tom Brady spoke on Wednesday about players who’ve risen from apprentice or supporting roles into critical ones. Guys who were on the outskirts who are now front-and-center.
Those guys, Brady said in answering a question about Phillip Dorsett, are the ones who need to carry the 2019 load.
“The veteran players who have been around, been in the tough games, know how to do it, you’ve got to carry the burden while the other guys can get up to speed and learn,” said Brady. “So, that’s part of the responsibility as a veteran player, for a guy like Phil, for a guy like Julian [Edelman], James White, Joe Thuney. You know, they were all young players at one point. Now, they’ve become the veteran players that they’ve got to carry most of the burden.”
Josh Gordon is not a young player. He’ll be 29 in April. But he is new-ish to the Patriots, has never played in an NFL playoff game and hasn’t survived the cauldron of an NFL stretch run with a postseason on the horizon.
He is, in some ways, a tweener. A veteran without experience. There’s also nagging doubt/fear that he can’t be fully counted upon. The only way he can make that doubt shrink away is by stringing great weeks together in which he just keeps punching the clock. Like last Sunday, Brady said.
“He’s done a great job,” Brady praised. “He just puts his head down and comes to work. I think what he did last game was pretty spectacular in his own right to that number of plays that he ran. You know, other guys were going down. He was getting the ball on the reverse, he got the ball on the go routes, he got the ball, and he just kept coming back to the huddle. I kept going, “You good?” And he’s like, “I’m good,” and he just kept answering the bell.”
There may come a time when Jakobi Meyers and N’Keal Harry – both rookies – will be in position to take on leadership roles and show teammates the ropes. Not now, though. Not this year. They – or at least Meyers, since Harry’s on IR – just need to keep their hands up and heads above water.
The Patriots could use more from Gordon. If he can give it. Again, it’s been hard to count on him. But it’s in him. And he’s trying to show it, as Brady observed.
“[Sunday’s performance] says a lot about him and his mental toughness, his perseverance,” said Brady. “Guys were dropping like flies out there and he just kept getting back up. There were a lot of big hits that he took on a very hot day, and just proud of him, what he’s accomplished. We’re going to need to continue to do it – not just him, but all of us.”
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