By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Undrafted rookie receiver Jakobi Meyers has by far been the biggest and brightest story to develop over the course of training camp and the preseason. On Thursday night, Meyers finally got his chance to show what he could do with Tom Brady.
It didn’t quite go as planned.
On the Patriots’ first offensive drive, facing a third-and-8 at their own 21-yard line, Brady anticipated that Meyers would run a skinny post up the right seam, based on the look the defense provided. But Meyers didn’t run that skinny post. He actually didn’t run at all. With the play still taking place, Meyers ran to the middle of the field and stopped running, unaware that Brady would be looking for him at all on the play.
Brady threw deep to where he thought Meyers might go. The ball hit the turf. The Patriots punted.
While it was a less-than-stellar first impression for Meyers with Brady in an actual game situation, the 42-year-old quarterback said that such plays are part of the learning process.
“I think for all of us, you play with guys that are maybe new to the offense and so forth, and sometimes they think they’re not part of the route, and then the team plays a certain coverage, and they’re part of the route,” Brady said. “That’s part of early in the season, that’s part of this time of year. We don’t have the full week to prepare, we’re kind of putting things together on the fly. So yeah, those are learning moments for all of us.”
It didn’t take long for Brady to let Meyers know what should have happened on the play in question, as the two met on the sidelines after the incompletion.
“I wouldn’t say intimidating,” Meyers said of the encounter. “But I was like man, this is … I’m really being yelled at by Tom Brady.”
In what was surely a positive sign for the budding Brady-Meyers relationship, Brady went directly to Meyers with the first pass of the Patriots’ second drive. In what was not the best step, the pass was a step behind Meyers, who couldn’t make the catch.
Meyers was targeted once more by Brady, but that pass fell incomplete, too.
On a positive note, Meyers picked up his performance once Brady left the game. After making zero receptions on three targets with Brady, Meyers would catch seven of the nine passes thrown his way by rookie quarterback Jarrett Stidham. Meyers’ 74 receiving yards led the Patriots, and Meyers has now led the Patriots in receiving yards in all three preseason games.
Meyers also leads the NFL in receiving yards this preseason with 325 yards on 19 receptions. His two receiving touchdowns are also tops across the whole league this summer.
From that standpoint, the needle is still pointing up on Meyers. It’s just the connection with Brady is going to require a bit more work.
“The most important part is to get in there, get to work, see what you need to do, see how you feel out there in real, live action,” Brady said. “And then get back to work as quickly as you can and try to make some improvements.”
Meyers looked at Thursday’s struggle as a potential positive.
“You kind of get comfortable, and that’s the one thing you don’t want to do as a Patriot — get comfortable,” Meyers told reporters. “So I had this moment, and I’m definitely going to learn from it. Probably get chewed out a little bit. But it’ll be all right.”