Patriots: Nelson Agholor ready for a bounce-back season

Photo: Dale Zanine – USA Today Sports

Nelson Agholor has heard all the chatter. He knows what his cap-hit is. He knows how people feel about his first year in New England.

Don’t worry Patriots fans, he’s not happy about it either.

On Tuesday afternoon, Agholor met with the media via a Zoom call and was honest about his first season in New England. Agholor’s performance didn’t meet his expectations and he certainly knows he didn’t meet the fans’ expectations either. That’s all in the past though and with a clean sheet this offseason, Agholor seems much happier and confident in his abilities.

“It’s a great vibe,” he said regarding the offseason workouts so far. “Working hard, getting stronger, working on our conditioning, training our routes and getting our timing down. It’s been a good time.”

That “good time” this offseason may be very important to his production during the regular season. Agholor admitted that he was never truly settled in last year and that he believes year two is one where he can really take off in this offense.

“The best part about it, is that in year two of the Patriots’ system is when guys really get going,” he said. “I feel comfortable and I’m excited to have my best season with the Patriots and show why I’m here.”

Agholor expanded a bit on why he believes that this year should be much easier on him mentally.

“For me, it’s familiarity first with the concepts, familiarity with how we do things,” he said. “Whether it’s scheduling, training, all those things, and then being more in a routine. I think it helps that I’m familiar with the environment, familiar with my coaching staff in terms of people in this building, strength staff, training staff. And, I know the routes. The route tree is unique. Everybody runs different routes, but the route tree is a little bit different than what I’ve ran before and now I know it, so I get to put my own spin on how we do things and play fast.

“So, I’m just growing, practicing, putting stuff on tape and being comfortable with it. Putting my own flavor on what I put on tape, whereas a year ago I was learning, so you do things at a certain learning tempo. You never get to just go full speed because you want to make sure you’re doing it right, so you kind of move with caution. Now, I know what it looks like and I just get to put my flavor on it. That’s the cool part of year two. You’ve done it, you have a year of tape of it, now you self study and you go play fast.”

The guy who will be throwing him passes while running that route tree also needs to have a big second year if the Patriots are going to compete in a loaded AFC. Agholor was asked for some thoughts on Mac Jones as well.

“I think his greatest strength is his ability to communicate,” said Agholor. “Obviously, he’s a great quarterback and I think he throws the ball amazing, but I really love the way he communicates. That’s something that allows you to grow together and work together…he’s doing a great job developing. He shows up every day working hard like everybody else in this building. He works hard, I can tell you that much. He leads by example with his effort each day.”

Last year may not have been what fans or Agholor had envisioned when he signed here, but he’s doing his best to make sure that’s all forgotten with a special performance in year two.

“It’s behind us, but I would say it went the way it was supposed to go for me to grow,” he added. “I can’t look at it any other way. I needed to grow, I needed to adopt, I needed to be able to do what I wanted to do and I think everything happens for a reason. I’m not going to get upset about this or that because it’s in the past.

“What I do have in front of me is a wonderful opportunity this year to be who I’m supposed to be and play the way I want to play, so I’m alright with that.”