The crew of Patriots working out together in California seems to be growing by the day.
Wideout Nelson Agholor is one of the latest players to join the group that also includes quarterbacks Cam Newton and Jarrett Stidham; tight ends Devin Asiasi, Hunter Henry, and Matt LaCosse; and receivers Kendrick Bourne, N’Keal Harry, and Jakobi Meyers.
Practice squad receivers Kristian Wilkerson and Isaiah Zuber have been involved, too.
“Every day we get a chance to be together we’re going to work hard and try to maximize those times,” Agholor said Wednesday afternoon.
The throwing sessions are a chance for the fresh (and returning) faces of New England’s revamped offense to become acquainted with one another. The players also have been bonding off the field, enjoying a pizza dinner Monday evening and visiting a paintball park Tuesday.
Although the team’s plans at quarterback remain fluid, Agholor, echoing several of his teammates, expressed an eagerness to catch passes from Newton.
“Cam Newton is a great quarterback,” Agholor said. “He was a league MVP for a reason, and I know he can do whatever needs to be done.
“For me, it’s just about getting out there and practicing with him. I’m just excited. I’m excited to work with him. I’m excited to grow. I know he’s going to push me. I also feel like [offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels] is going to put us in position.”
It’s no secret that New England’s passing attack left a lot to be desired last season. The Patriots ranked 30th in the NFL in average passing yards per game (180.6) and tied for last in touchdown passes (12).
But the additions of Agholor, Bourne, Henry, and tight end Jonnu Smith should help revive the offense this season. Smith has not yet joined his teammates in Los Angeles, though he said Monday he plans to link up with them in the near future.
Given last season’s workout constraints as a result of the coronavirus pandemic — and the lingering uncertainty surrounding the league’s official calendar this offseason — the more time players can build chemistry now, the better.
Agholor, who likely will fill the role of a deep threat, likes the mix of personnel the Patriots have assembled and called it an honor to be included.
“I think the organization definitely had a plan when they put everybody together,” he said. “We’re going to work hard and figure it out.”
Last season with the Raiders, Agholor caught 48 passes for a career-high 896 yards and eight touchdowns. Thirty-seven of his receptions went for first downs, with 15 generating gains of at least 20 yards.
“I just wanted to play hard enough last year to put myself in a position to be valued by somebody and help a team win football games,” he said. “For the Patriots to think enough of me to be that guy, I’m very appreciative. I’m looking forward to working hard to do that.”
Once the team begins practicing, whether it be OTAs or training camp, Agholor is also looking forward to reuniting with former teammate Jalen Mills, a defensive back who recently signed with the Patriots after five seasons with the Eagles.
The pair would often get involved in heated matchups in Philadelphia.
“Me and Nelson, man, we had some battles,” Mills recalled. “I’m talking about in camp, like real-life, steamy battles to where we were going at it with each other. At the end of the day, that’s what you want, you want that competition.
“You know it’s not going to be every day you’re just dominating him. I want a guy who’s going to be able to challenge me. One day, I get him. The next day, he gets me. It just goes on and on. You know the saying, ‘Iron sharpens iron,’ that’s what you want.”
Until things get going, however, Agholor will continue to learn the playbook and become acquainted with the offense.
“I’m going to do whatever needs to be done to try and find a way to win,” he said.