Bill Belichick explains how Nelson Agholor is taking ‘big jump’ in Year 2 with Patriots

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It might be time to feel cautious optimism surrounding Nelson Agholor’s second season with the New England Patriots. Bill Belichick has long preached with rookies and veterans that it can take a full year to acclimate to the team’s way of doing things. So while Agholor’s first year was a bit of a mess (37 catches, 473 yards, 3 TDs), he might take the Year 2 leap.

Certainly, he has shown up in OTAs, minicamp and training camp in a much more meaningful way than he was able to do last season. The NFL didn’t even conduct OTAs or minicamp last year due to COVID-19. His ability to stretch the field and make highlight-reel plays has been impressive.

“It’s a big jump, big jump for him,” coach Bill Belichick said of Agholor before practice on Wednesday. “He was here all offseason and had a really good offseason, was productive. He had a really good spring of training. He’s come out here. He’s made consistently, made plays obviously down the field which is very important but also in other areas, very few mental errors very few mistakes. So he’s looked good.”

During the first two padded practices, the Patriots offense has been unimpressive in 11-on-11 drills, though the Agholor did make one of the best plays of the team’s two padded practices so far in training camp. He managed to haul in a deep ball along the right sideline.

Agholor could be among the team’s skill players who begin to lift the performance of the offense as they learn and apply their new scheme, which appears to be a significant shift in the wake of Josh McDaniels’ departure. Belichick, Matt Patricia and Joe Judge are developing and installing a new offense that looks similar to what Sean McVay runs with Los Angeles Rams.

“Similar but different,” Agholor said of the scheme alterations on offense. “(The coaches are) just doing a good job of just trying to get offensive players in position — taking the (routes) that come our way and looking at the defense for man or for zone. They do a good job.”

Even with the adversity that the offense is facing, quarterback Mac Jones and Agholor appear to have ignited a connection on the deep ball — one that was sorely lacking in 2021 after the Patriots signed the receiver to a two-year, $22 million deal. Of course, Agholor and Jones need to figure out how to bring their connection into 11-on-11 play with greater regularity (and then regular-season games). But in the meantime, Agholor and Jones are displaying progress, which is what training camp is all about — especially in these early days.

“We’re just gotta be consistent about it,” Agholor said on Tuesday. “Work every day at it. Be intentional about it. Have communication about it. And work hard. Run (downfield routes) when I’m tried. Run ’em when I’m fresh. We just gotta keep running ’em. I think, with those reps, it’ll put us in a good place.”

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Story originally appeared on Patriots Wire