Belichick: LaFell could play big role with Pats

Belichick: LaFell could play big role with Pats
August 20, 2014, 10:45 am
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FOXBORO -- The signs have been there for a few weeks now, and Brandon LaFell has been happy to tell anyone who will listen: He’s getting more comfortable by the day.

“From OTAs to now,” LaFell said, “if I had to put it on a scale from zero-to-10, I would say like an eight now,” LaFell said Tuesday. “OTAs I was shell-shocked, didn’t know what to expect. It was all new to me." 

LaFell relayed similar sentiments last week as he had shown consistent signs of being on the same page with Tom Brady. He admitted then that their chemistry had been “rocky” to start, but their connection never went the way of that between Brady and veteran free-agent pickups of the past like Chad Ochocinco or Joey Galloway.

The key for LaFell is knowing what to expect in terms of Brady’s demands, then being able to execute what the offense asks.

“He expects you to be exactly where he wants you to be when running a route,” LaFell said of his new quarterback. “Not a yard off, not a yard too deep, not a yard too short. He expects you to be exactly where he wants you to be because he’s going to put the ball placement exactly right.” 

That LaFell understands where he needs to be will be vital to the role he plays this season in New England’s offense. He was signed as a versatile receiver who can play a variety of spots as well as on special teams.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick hinted on Tuesday that LaFell has met expectations to this point in the preseason and that the 6-foot-3 receiver could be a key contributor in various facets of the game -- not only as a sizable target in the passing game. 

“He’s been good,” Belichick said. “He’s been very diligent in trying to learn his assignments, learn the plays. He’s a tough kid. He’s played for us in the kicking game, he’s given us some plays there, which at that position it’s always good to get those out of those receivers. Those are kind of like bonus plays. I think he’s been very competitive. Obviously he’s a big target. Again, he’s gotten better at the routes that we’ve run. I thought the deep out route that he ran [against the Eagles] was good. He created a lot of separation on that. He’s got a good skill set; a little different than some of our other guys, but good and he’s tough.”

LaFell has some experience as a kick returner and a punt returner, but Belichick said part of LaFell’s value could come from his work on special teams when the ball is not in his hands.

“Size and strength are big attributes that you have to have to block or take on blockers . . . I think those are things that kind of work in his favor as he’s did in Carolina,” Belichick said. “He’s tough and he’s competitive and he does a good job there. Just another way that he can contribute to the team. I think that’s really been one of the best things about Brandon is just he’s finding different ways to contribute, whether it’s blocking, receiving, special teams. Whatever we’ve asked him to do, he’s done it and done it well. He’s gotten better at it. I think he’ll be able to carve out a role for himself here. It might be a big one, I don’t know, we’ll see.”