Brandon LaFell’s been warned. And apparently, he wants to be a Patriot anyway.
The newly acquired wide receiver knows Stevan Ridley from their time together at LSU. When LaFell told Ridley he was headed to New England for a visit, the Patriots running back told LaFell, “I’m going to tell you just like I tell everybody else, you have to come up here and be able to sacrifice your off-the-field life for things you have to do – put in extra time on film and extra work at the practice facility.’ He just kept saying the word sacrifice; sacrifice and hard work. ‘If you’re committed to do that with the rest of the guys, you’re going to fit in well and help us win games.’ ”
The 6-2, 208-pound LaFell is a versatile receiver who has played well but not brilliantly in his first four seasons. In a different offense with a more polished passer than the Panthers' Cam Newton, LaFell has potential. He needs to become more sure-handed and will be challenged by the Patriots – and Tom Brady’s – expectations. But he says the right things.
“I take a lot of pride in [blocking] because it goes back to my college days,” said LaFell. “I came in at LSU and I was the sixth or seventh guy. I thought I had a chance to play because I had just about as much ability as anyone catching the ball, running, jumping and everything else. But I wouldn’t touch a soul, I wouldn’t block a soul. But one day, Coach [Les] Miles took my helmet on the sideline, the Arizona State game and I came in and met with him the following week and he told me I had to get physical, I had to learn how to block or I wouldn’t play football on this team. Ever since that day I just took it upon myself to make sure I did that and did it with pride.”
And when his call was over, LaFell thanked the Patriots. And the reporters on the conference call.
“I appreciate you guys taking this time out to do this,” he said. “I just want to thank Mr. Kraft and the whole Patriots organization for taking a chance on me. They could have gone out and signed anybody. I just want them to know I appreciate it and I’m going to give them everything I have.”