FOXBORO, Mass. — Patriots wide receiver Jakobi Meyers immediately became quarterback Cam Newton’s favorite target as soon as he entered New England’s Week 7 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
So, why wasn’t Meyers playing all along?
Meyers, who came to the Patriots as an undrafted free agent last offseason, caught four passes on six targets for 60 yards in New England’s 33-6 loss. He entered the game with just 22 snaps and one 7-yard catch through the first six weeks of the 2020 season while playing behind Damiere Byrd, N’Keal Harry, Julian Edelman and even practice squad wideout Isaiah Zuber. Meyers was a healthy scratch in Week 4 and while the second-year pro dressed for Week 6, he didn’t get on the field.
After Harry exited Sunday’s game with a head injury, Meyers played the majority of snaps the rest of the way.
Meyers said Sunday he tries not to question why he’s not receiving more playing time.
“All I know is if I keep focusing on what I don’t have, then I won’t be ready for when I do get it,” Meyers said. “Just keep trying to focus on when my name is called will I know the play? Because there’s nothing worse than a guy who complains and then when that chance comes, he doesn’t handle it right.”
Meyers played 36.2 percent of Patriots offensive snaps in 2019 and finished third among wide receivers with 26 catches for 359 yards. Harry, a 2019 first-round pick, played 19.2 percent of offensive snaps last season and finished with 12 catches for 105 yards.
The Patriots clearly think more of Harry based on his first-round pedigree, but Meyers has been the more productive player on a per-snap basis through the first two seasons of their NFL careers. Meyers also dealt with a shoulder injury in training camp.
“It’s a business,” Meyers said. “And I know if I don’t perform no matter what the excuse is, what happened prior to me being in there — if I don’t perform when I get in there, they won’t need me anymore. I just want to come in and prove that I can be there, be that guy that they rely on when tough times happen. And hopefully, I show something to move forward and play more.”
Newton threw interceptions on both of his incompletions to Meyers. The first one was thrown low into double coverage, and the second was overthrown into double coverage. Meyers tripped on the overthrow but probably would have struggled to catch up with Newton’s pass anyway.
The Patriots’ offense has become stagnant over the last two weeks, and Meyers did provide a small spark when he was on the field. The Patriots should shuffle their receiver snaps moving forward to see if anyone on the current roster could breathe some life into the offense.