BOSTON (CBS) — Eric Rowe is turning heads in the early days of Patriots training camp. In his first preseason spent with New England since being acquired from the Eagles just days before the 2016 season opener, Rowe has been a pleasant surprise in a loaded Patriots secondary.
The corner joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Gasper & Murray during Saturday’s full-pad practice, the first such session of the season, to talk about how camp has been going so far. For Rowe, the biggest difference so far has been his ability to read and react during plays without over-thinking things, which has allowed him to play faster.
“I’m not really even thinking anymore when I’m out there,” said Rowe. “I know the call, I know where my help is … I’m not really thinking anymore.”
Rowe spent a lot of time during the 2016 season learning the Patriots’ defensive playbook, which slowed his progress over the course of his first year. He was playing better by the end of the season and performed admirably in Super Bowl LI, at times covering Falcons All-Pro wideout Julio Jones.
Rowe looks to be taking things to another level so far in Patriots training camp, solidifying himself as the clear frontrunner to be the third cornerback behind Malcolm Butler and Stephon Gilmore.
He also explained what the Patriots were doing when Bill Belichick strapped large mitts onto the cornerbacks’ hands during drills. Belichick is trying to keep his corners from grabbing receivers’ jerseys, which could result in penalties, and get them focused on other aspects of coverage.
“It really does help with [being] focused on our footwork, because if you don’t have hands all we can use now is our feet,” said Rowe. “So it really gets us in a good habit of, instead of grabbing, just using our feet – and it’s a lot more efficient.”
Listen above for the full interview!