Stallworth: 'I'm a lot more mature now'

Stallworth: 'I'm a lot more mature now'
May 15, 2012, 6:20 pm
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FOXBORO -- After Donte' Stallworth re-signed with the Patriots in March, agent Drew Rosenhaus revealed it was his client's wish all along.

He said, Drew, you got one thing to do for me this offseason: Get me to New England, Rosenhaus said.

Stallworth took a break from Tuesday's workouts to talk about his desire to re-join the Pats.

"Being here it's obviously a special place and I've always had a lot of respect for Mr. Kraft and really the whole organization and a lot of the players here," he said. "Still got a lot of friends on the team, so I just thought that it made a lot of sense for me to come back here and try to help this team win some ballgames."

New England won plenty of games in 2007 when Stallworth was last here. It's the one that eluded him -- the Super Bowl -- that he's after.

He said chasing a championship again as a Patriot is a thrill. If not a little strange.

"It was interesting. It was a little weird feeling. It was kind of surreal," Stallworth said of his return. "But honestly, I think it took about a week or so to get adjusted and to really realize that, hey, I really am back; it's not just a dream. It's been good being back and seeing a lot of the same, familiar faces -- friendly faces."

Though there's temptation to submit to that time warp feeling when seeing Stallworth at Gillette, reality stubbornly elbows in.

Stallworth is 31 years old. He hasn't been with a team for consecutive seasons since his first four years (all in New Orleans) in the league. He hasn't started a game since 2008. And those 46 receptions he had for the Patriots? Stallworth didn't even have half that in a solid 2011 for Washington.

His focus isn't on the numbers. When Stallworth tweeted "This time around, things will be different," on the day he signed, the thinking was big-picture positive.

"I'm a lot more mature now than I was in 2007," he said. "I feel like I'm playing better. I'm in a better place mentally, physically and I just felt like at that time I was still trying to mature and grow into a professional athlete. I feel like I'm a lot further down the road than I was last time."

He believes his game is actually better now.

"I think, back then, I was really more relying on my talent. Now that I'm going into my 10th year, I think I run better routes now and understand different coverages and what teams are trying to do. That's a big thing because you always hear people say this game is 90-percent mental and 10-percent physical... I don't know who came up with that percentage, but I would say that it's fairly accurate for certain reasons.

"You just look at a guy -- not by any means, don't take this wrong like I'm comparing myself to Jerry Rice -- but Jerry Rice wasn't the most talented guy. But he was the best receiver to ever play this game just because he understood what defenses were trying to do. He understood the little nuances of zone coverages and things like that. That's something I've gotten a lot better at as I've gotten older in my career."

His is a smart attitude to project, considering there are 12 receivers coming into camp; the competition is eagerly anticipated.

Stallworth said the chance is all he needs.

"I think you just come to the reality that basically you have one shot to prove yourself. Whatever happens after that is really up to me and my performance."