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Mike Mayock on Patriots offense: ‘With youth comes growing pains’

09.11.13 at 12:59 pm ET
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Mike Mayock and Brad Nessler will call the Patriots-Jets game Thursday. (AP)

Mike Mayock (right) and Brad Nessler will call the Patriots-Jets game Thursday. (AP)

Mike Mayock agrees with Tom Brady.

This isn’t necessarily because Mayock is a smart guy — there are few football analysts who spend more time watching tape than Mayock, a former Boston College defensive back who played for Bill Belichick with the Giants and now works for the NFL Network. (He’ll be part of the broadcast team for Thursday’s Patriots-Jets game.)

But after watching the Patriots in the regular-season opener against the Bills last week, he echoes the opinion of the New England quarterback: when it comes to the Patriots offense — and the passing game in particular — it’s a work in progress.

“With youth comes growing pains,” Mayock said when asked to dissect the New England offense and how it operated against the Bills. “That’s just the way of the world in anything. I think what they are betting on is that over time, these guys are younger, quicker, faster, and will develop into better playmakers down the road. You might lose a little bit early — and by the way, I thought there were several disconnects between Brady and his young receivers in the game [Sunday]. And I think that’s something you’re going to have to live with for a little time.”

One player who caught his eye over the course of the preseason was rookie wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins, who was targeted 14 times and had four catches against the Bills. Mayock said that Thompkins “has an ability to separate and get open,” but reiterated that it will take some time for Thompkins and the rest of the rookies to adjust to the pro game.

“Now, when [Rob] Gronkowski gets back, I think a lot of that gets better more quickly because he’ll draw so much coverage. But I think Thompkins has an ability to separate and get open. Dobson, who didn’t play, I think has big time ability in size,” Mayock said. “I think what you’re looking at, and the reason they did this is my guess, is that over time, they are going to get better. And Tom Brady is the kind of guy that can get them a win like yesterday when they had all they could handle and more, but they still got the win, and try to allow these guys time to develop.”

As for the rest of the receiving corps, Mayock praised Danny Amendola, but stopped sort of offering a full endorsement of the decision the Patriots made to go with him ahead of Wes Welker.

“I think that Amendola is a very similar a guy to Welker five years ago — he’s younger, fresh legs, etc., and both are very similar type of players. They both win very quickly,” Mayock said. “That’s what Tom Brady and Peyton Manning love about those kind of players, because when they bring heavy pressure, you trust that this guy is going to win quickly.

“Now the whole thing with Amendola is staying healthy; and [Sunday], watching the game, it looked like he had a groin problem but came back in and obviously made the key catches down the stretch,” he added. “I think when healthy, he’s very comparable to Welker and he’s younger than Welker, which is why I think they made the move. The only caveat I would give you on the kid is that he’s got to stay healthy with his history of injuries.”

Read More: Danny Amendola, Kenbrell Thompkins, Mike Mayock, Tom Brady
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