Patriots: Mills looking forward to second year with the Pats

Photo: Nancy Lane/Boston Herald

On Tuesday, Nelson Agholor talked about how much more comfortable he is in the Patriots system in his second year, even before OTA’s start. On Thursday, cornerback Jalen Mills echoed many of the same sentiments.

Mills is a bit of a forgotten man with the re-signing of Malcolm Butler and two cornerbacks being taken in the draft. Mills has a chance to be – and may need to be – a big factor for the defense this season. Mills is a seven-year vet and knows he can be better than he was in 2021, even though he improved quite a bit towards the end of last season.

That all starts with being comfortable in your surroundings and being familiar with teammates’ tendencies.

“I think I really just got comfortable within the scheme,” he said. “It was two totally different schemes that I was playing in before and then last year. Just getting comfortable within the scheme, getting comfortable with certain guys. Certain guys do certain things, certain guys make different checks. Knowing pre-snap, if I have (Adrian Phillips) next to me, he’s going to do something different than (Kyle) Dugger or (Devin) McCourty. If I had Hightower next me, he was going to make a different check than Kyle Van Noy. That was the biggest thing for me, getting comfortable within the scheme.

“Definitely feeling more comfortable. OTA’s we’re always gearing up, but from Day 1, now to last year, just going over the plays, going over the installs, my mind isn’t wandering and I’m not asking 100 questions. Instead, now I’m asking 50 questions instead of 100 last year. Definitely more confident in the scheme, for sure.”

Is Mills using the way last year ended in Buffalo as motivation?

“That situation, it is what it is,” he said. “That was last year. Totally different locker room now, we’ve got a couple guys back, but totally different locker room, different energy. We’re looking forward to the 2022 season and what we have at stake.”

Mills missed the playoff game in Buffalo, so not being able to help his teammates on that miserable night made the way the season ended even more frustrating for him. It’s also a big factor that’s fueling his desire for that year two jump.

“Going into the playoffs, that’s all you want, every year, every team just wants a chance to get in the playoffs,” he added. “Once you get in the playoffs, anything can happen, it’s just an invite to the dance. Me as a competitor, definitely wanted to be out there competing with my guys, regardless of the situation, it did happen like that. But yeah, sure, as a competitor, I definitely wanted to be out there.”