FOXBOROUGH — The word “versatility” is nearly as clichéd around Gillette Stadium as the Patriots’ motto of “Do your job.” Versatility is a coveted asset for nearly every player. If you don’t do one thing exceedingly well, you’d better be able to do several things better than average if you want to stick around.
While for some players that means being able to line up at slot corner or outside corner, at guard or center, third-round pick Geneo Grissom can line up on defense or offense.
Taken 97th overall in this year’s draft, Grissom played defensive end and linebacker at Oklahoma, but also lined up at tight end for the Sooners during the 2012 season and worked out for NFL teams at the position.
We are still a long way from knowing what the 6-foot-3-inch, 262-pound Grissom will do for the Patriots, but he is taking nothing for granted. Speaking Thursday on the field at Gillette with three of his fellow rookies, Grissom mentioned “potentially” making the 53-man roster.
“New England is amazing,” Grissom said. “I’m glad to be here. It’s an honor to be here. Ready to get to work.”
Media availability with Patriots rookies has a routine feel: Many frequently use phrases such as “I’m just here to learn” or “I just want to get better,” as they’ve been taught.
But few rookies have seemed as on edge as Grissom. He was able to joke about it, acknowledging he was nervous and didn’t want to say the wrong thing.
Grissom smiled when a reporter mentioned that you could almost see Grissom going through the team rules in his head as he tried to answer questions.
At one point, he sort of threw in the towel, responding, “I’m just trying to get better” to several questions.
That was even when a reporter tried to steer him away from football to ask him about hockey. Though Grissom grew up in Kansas and attended Oklahoma — neither place a hockey hotbed — he said on his conference call shortly after being drafted that he loved the sport, was a Bruins fan, and that defenseman Zdeno Chara “is a beast.”
So, where did that love come from?
“Just playing video games,” Grissom said.
Really? You’ve never played yourself?
“No . . . I’m just here trying to get better.”
What drew you to the Bruins?
“Just here trying to get better, guys.”
In his quest for improvement, Grissom has been talking to more experienced Patriots, taking what he can from whomever will offer advice.
“Absolutely,” he said. “You have to take everything you can from the veterans. These guys have been here, they know what they’re doing, and everything that they can give me to get my game better, I’m going to absorb it.”
He may have a lot to absorb given how much he might be asked to do. Grissom acknowledged that while he’s in New England to “do my job,” he doesn’t know what his job might be. It seems safe to say that he will be focused on defense to start, though after drafting Grissom, Bill Belichick said he had one of the better tight end workouts the Patriots saw this spring.
Grissom seems to pride himself on his ability to play several positions, and doing so is “just my willingness to do whatever’s asked of me,” he said. “That’s what I plan to do here — do whatever I can to help the team win.”
He is rooming with Trey Flowers, the Arkansas defensive lineman taken four picks after Grissom. Though they may be in competition for playing time, they study the playbook together and quiz each other.
“It’s all a process,” said Grissom. “We’ve all got to work together to get better every day. If I have a question, I know I can go to Trey, and he knows the same of me.”