FOXBOROUGH — The play was over. Mac Jones’s pass to Damien Harris was complete.
But Harris wasn’t done.
In usual fashion, the four-year veteran running back continued his jog down the sideline. He did so all the way to the end zone, where he looked back and threw up a peace sign to his teammates ready to run the next drill.
Harris was glad to be back.
“It’s a lot of fun just having the opportunity to come out here with this team,” Harris said. “Having all our guys back brings all the more excitement, so every time you touch the ball, you want good results to happen.”
Along with 11 other teams across the NFL, the Patriots began mandatory minicamp Tuesday. Coach Bill Belichick said the three-day practice schedule should help condition the team for July’s training camp.
“It’s really kind of the same process every day,” said Belichick. “If we’re not ready to move ahead, then there’s no point in moving ahead. If we’re moving a little faster than we thought, then maybe we can add a little more than we thought we’d be able to add.
“We have a general outline, but that’s modified really on a daily basis.”
Although the team’s agenda may be up for evaluation, Harris’s personal one is straightforward.
“Keep stacking our things together, improve every single day, come out with the right mentality,” Harris said. “The mentality to get better, to improve and do everything we can do to be better football players individually and as a team.”
Harris ended the 2021 season with 929 rushing yards in 15 games. Toward the tail end, he suffered a hamstring injury that sidelined him from the late December loss to the Colts.
Although Belichick did not offer specifics into any possible changes to the team’s offensive approach, Harris said he will be prepared for any game plan.
“Every year things change,” Harris said. “We get new players, new coaches, new schemes sometimes, and every day I come in with the mentality to just learn, improve.
“Whatever changes, whatever tweaks need to be made, it’s up to the coaches to make those decisions, and as a player, it’s my job to come in and have the right mentality, ready to learn, be able to adapt, be able to handle anything that they throw our way.”
Harris said Jones’s hard-working mentality is what he appreciates most about the quarterback. He hopes the second-year Patriot, who led all rookies in 2021 with 3,801 passing yards and 22 touchdown passes, shares his drive with the rest of the roster.
“He works his butt off to be the best, to be his best in order to help all of us as his teammates be our best,” Harris said. “That’s the mentality we’ve all got to have. We all got to embody that out of ourselves and into the team, coming out here ready to compete, we’re doing what we can to improve ourselves and improve our team.”