LaFell adjusting to new offense in camp

LaFell adjusting to new offense in camp
July 28, 2014, 11:00 am
Share This Post

FOXBORO – Brandon LaFell just doesn’t generate a lot of excitement.
 
I mean, he could…conceivably. He’s a 6-2, 210-pound wide receiver, runs well, plays with a decent level of aggression. He’s in his fifth season, a former third-round pick, a free agent signee from Carolina with a three-year, $9 million deal.
 
There’s enough there to think, “Hey, maybe…”
 
But is he a difference-maker or merely a place-holder?
 
Is he David Givens/Jabar Gaffney? Or Sam Aiken/Kelly Washington?
 
We’ll find out in due time. So far?

LaFell’s hard hands were evident during the first three days of practice. He was the guilty party on a few missed connections. The bulk of them weren’t out-and-out drops but on a couple of contested throws over the middle on Saturday, LaFell had the ball glance off his hands and downfield. Easy? No. Catchable? Completely.
 
“Very frustrated, man, very frustrated,” LaFell said when asked about the missed connections after Saturday’s workout. “We feel like, if it hits our hands, we should catch the ball. In this game, you don’t get that many opportunities so whenever you get one, you need to make that play.”
 
Sunday was much better for LaFell. No drops.
 
The hands are the main issue for LaFell, who – by one accounting – had nine drops on 80 targets for the Panthers in 2013.  
 
LaFell indicated the assimilation to the Patriots isn’t easy.  
 
“I’m a little more comfortable (than earlier in the offseason) but I’m not nearly where I want to be,” he explained. “That’s why we got training camp. But way more comfortable now. …Taking it one day at a time, coming out here and trying to get better one day at a time.”
 
Part of the transition for LaFell is the way the offense is taught.
 
“It’s just numbers (vs.) concepts,” LaFell said when asked about the differences between the Patriots’ offense and the Panthers. “Here, it’s more concepts, back in Carolina its more numbers but both offenses are built to attack.”
 
The other difference is the guy running the offense. Asked to compare Tom Brady and Cam Newton, LaFell said, “Both guys got strong arms, its just different ball placement. Cam’s ball, they always came hard. That guy’s got a lot of talent, a lot of arm strength, Tom’s ball comes pretty hard too, but there’s different ball placement. The accuracy is a little better (with Tom) but both of those guys are (very talented).”
 
There are underlying factors to take into account when evaluating the Patriots passing game in camp. Darrelle Revis. And the more aggressive style being shown.
 
Saturday, the first day in pads when LaFell had his drops? The coverage was so far ahead of the routes and precision, it wasn’t funny.
 
On Revis, LaFell said, “He’s always tough It’s not just today, it was all during OTAs, all during last season with Tampa. Every time I play that guy he’s tough. He don’t take no days off in practice. It’s definitely gonna make us better. The harder it is out here every day, the easier it will be on Sundays.”

This week will give LaFell a better chance to acclimate. Next week should be even more revealing when the Patriots head to Richmond to work with the Skins leading into their preseason opener.
 
That work – and the work against the defensive backs in camp at Foxboro – will start revealing what LaFell will bring.