FOXBOROUGH — Nelson Agholor is the most experienced wide receiver on the Patriots, but the 28-year-old veteran still made it a priority to attend the team’s voluntary practices.
“This is where you grow as a player,” said Agholor, who signed a two-year contract in March. “I definitely want to take another leap this year. You have to be here, you have to learn, you have to be coached up about how you do things, learn the scheme, and just work on the fundamentals.
“I think you can do things individually, but, as a wide receiver, you need to be next to the [offensive coordinator], you need to be next to the quarterback, and I think you grow well that way.”
On Friday, Agholor experienced exactly that, getting feedback from wide receivers coach Mick Lombardi and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels while also catching passes from quarterbacks Cam Newton, Jarrett Stidham, Mac Jones, and Brian Hoyer.
Among the other receivers in attendance for the sixth of New England’s 10 scheduled OTAs were fellow free-agent acquisition Kendrick Bourne, third-year players Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski, rookie Tre Nixon, former practice-squad standouts Isaiah Zuber and Kristian Wilkerson, and newly signed Marvin Hall. Hall has 37 catches for 772 yards and 5 touchdowns across four seasons with the Falcons, Lions, and Browns.
Agholor was an active participant, both in conversation and during drills. When Newton didn’t finish practice as a result of discomfort in his right hand, Agholor spent time checking in with his teammate.
And at the end of the session, when the team’s field goal unit took the field, Agholor and Jones had a catch to the side.
As he continues to learn the playbook, Agholor hopes to develop chemistry and create an ongoing dialogue with all four quarterbacks.
“I think that’s important between quarterbacks and receivers, the level of communication,” he said. “Coaches can teach us, coaches can put you in position, but relationships are built through communication. I think our quarterbacks, all of them, do a great job with communicating.”
Last season with the Las Vegas Raiders, Agholor finished with a career-high 896 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns. Fifteen of his 48 receptions generated gains of at least 20 yards.
In terms of how he might be used this season, Agholor expressed an eagerness to contribute from multiple positions and routes, whether it be in the slot or as an outside threat. He called New England’s offense “very versatile,” with several ways to attack an opposing defense.
“It’s a great opportunity,” he said. “I’m new here, so it’s about learning the plays and different routes, learning the adjustments, and working on timing.”
Not on the scene
Those not spotted on the field at Friday’s session included linebackers Dont’a Hightower, Matt Judon, and Terez Hall; safeties Adrian Phillips and Devin McCourty; cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore and J.C. Jackson; defensive tackle Byron Cowart; running backs James White, Sony Michel, Brandon Bolden, and Rhamondre Stevenson; tight end Jonnu Smith; receivers N’Keal Harry and Devin Smith; offensive tackles Isaiah Wynn and Trent Brown; and kicker Nick Folk.
Coach Bill Belichick offered his support to Brad Stevens, whom the Celtics recently promoted from coach to president of basketball operations following Danny Ainge’s retirement.
“I have a ton of respect for Brad,” Belichick said. “He’s a good friend and a great person. I think he’s certainly added a lot to the Celtics and sports in Boston and, personally, as a friend, he’s helped me as well in our conversations and the time we’ve spent together.
“So, I’m sure whatever the setup is over there, I’m sure he’ll enhance it and the Celtics will continue to be a strong, competitive team that, honestly, they pretty much have always been.”
Belichick and Stevens, who is also close friends with McDaniels, have been able to forge a bond since Stevens was hired as Celtics coach in 2013. Stevens is often a guest at Patriots training camp, while Belichick has addressed Celtics teams in the past.
The pair have also turned to each other for coaching advice.
“Dealing with athletes, dealing with teams, dealing with similar situations, even though the sports are different, there’s a lot of common ground there,” Belichick said. “For me to call up another coach in the National Football League and talk about my problems, I mean, that’s not really something that I would do or that anybody else would do.”
Belichick opened his media availability with shout-outs to the Bruins and coach Bruce Cassidy, and to coach Acacia Walker-Weinstein and the Boston College women’s lacrosse team that recently won its first national championship.
Belichick and his assistants wore Bruins caps at practice.
Some observations …
Second-round pick Christian Barmore showed excellent quickness and moves on some interior pass rushes. He even committed some Alabama-on-Alabama crime when he “sacked” Jones … Kyle Van Noy had a sure Jones interception go off his hands late in the day; the veteran linebacker immediately penalized himself with 10 pushups … Deatrich Wise was beastly off the edge, consistently pressuring the pocket. He also consistently fired up his teammates with his chants … Safety Adrian Colbert had a nice sideline breakup of a Hoyer pass intended for Hunter Henry … Fullback Jakob Johnson had a pair of drops … Running back Tyler Gaffney is getting a ton of reps with so many others not in attendance. He looks very comfortable for a guy who’s spent the last few years playing baseball … Offensive tackle Yodny Cajuste ran a penalty lap for an unspecified infraction … Ernie Adams was present and accounted for …Belichick tossed his hat at holder Jake Bailey on several field goal attempts to sharpen his concentration; Bailey calmly pushed the cap out of the way each time and made the play … Undrafted rookie Quinn Nordin showed off some serious leg strength on several field goal attempts of 50-plus yards. Several times he hit the netting, which is a good 15 yards beyond the posts.