Next Pats Podcast

Why Demario Douglas could have a real role in Patriots' offense

The rookie out of Liberty appears to have strong support from his teammates.

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There's a big difference between standing out on training camp practice fields and making a legitimate impact in NFL games. Demario Douglas has already accomplished the former -- and he's quickly progressing toward the latter.

The New England Patriots' rookie wide receiver has continued to impress this week during joint practices with the Packers in Green Bay, with our Tom E. Curran observing that Douglas was a "problem" for the Packers' secondary Thursday.

On a new episode of NBC Sports Boston's Next Pats Podcast, our Phil Perry relayed that the Patriots' sixth-round pick has a vocal contingent of supporters in New England's locker room.

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"Pop Douglas still can't be covered, apparently," Perry said. "In some of the stuff that you're hearing from Patriots players about Pop Douglas during practice -- we're not allowed to quote Patriots players in anything they say, coaches included, while they're on the practice field. But what we can tell you is, there's been a lot of emphatic support for Pop Douglas and his physical skill set from veteran guys who have been in the league for a long, long time. And for him to be doing that after one set of joint practices in mid-August, coming from Liberty at 5-foot-8 and a shade under 200 pounds, is eye-opening to me."

Douglas has taken plenty of reps with the starting offense and only played two snaps in the Patriots' preseason opener against the Houston Texans, which actually could be a sign that he's a safe bet to make the 53-man roster, because Bill Belichick already knows what he has in the rookie wideout and wants to keep him under wraps, so to speak.

Perry believes that Douglas not only will make the team, but could play a real role in the offense right out of the gate.

"You can't cover him in the 1-on-1s. He's working with both Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe. He's catching the football, it feels like, every three minutes," Perry said of Douglas. "This guy is going to have a role on this team. He's not only on the team, in my opinion, but he's going to have a role on this team.

"What that role is, I don't know. Maybe it ends up getting decided by injuries. But if you're talking about 11 personnel -- you want to spread things out, Bill O'Brien, and go 10 personnel with four receivers potentially -- get him on the field."

While Douglas is a bit undersized at 5-foot-8, 192 pounds, his greatest strength is his ability to create separation, which he could parlay into a slot role as Mac Jones' third-down security blanket.

"He gets open, on third down especially," Perry added. "If you're in third-and-4, third-and-6, sort of on the shorter end of third down where you don't necessarily need an explosive, down-the-field kind of play -- although I think he could give you some of that as well. But somebody who can get open in a phone booth and run a whip route -- and Mac Jones is going to understand that he's going to have separation very, very consistently, even though he's just a rookie -- that has value. He's going to be out there."

Also in this episode:

  • Which rookies' stock is on the rise?
  • Is Ezekiel Elliott actually a better fit for the Patriots than Dalvin Cook? 
  • Ex-Patriots running back James White joins the show to discuss the addition of Elliott.
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