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Belichick on Patriots WR Nixon: ‘Nobody Works Harder’

The Patriots head coach met with the media to discuss the team’s performance following their 23-21 loss to the New York Giants in their 2022 preseason opener.

FOXBORO — New England Patriots wide receiver Tre Nixon may only be entering his second year with the team. However, he is well-aware of the challenges which lay ahead in attempting to secure a roster spot for 2022.

With a strong work ethic and a desire to compete, coach Bill Belichick continues to take notice of Nixon’s abilities, as well as his ambition.

"[Tre’s a] hard-working kid. Tough kid,” Belichick told reporters via video conference on Friday morning. “He was looking for an opportunity, got an opportunity."

Nixon was one of the Pats’ standout performers in their preseason opener against the New York Giants on Thursday evening. Following a shaky performance in the first half, which included a third-down drop, Nixon rebounded early in the second half. He was on the receiving end of two deep-ball connections from reserve quarterback Bailey Zappe, picking up 32 and 36 yards respectively. His receptions were key in helping to set up rookie running back Kevin Harris’ touchdown.

Nixon ultimately finished the night with four catches on eight targets for 81 yards in the Pats’ 23-21 loss to New York. 

While his statistics may not be considered eye-popping, Nixon continues to impress his coaches with a staunch desire to help the team in any way he can. In the Pats preseason opener, his duties not only included significant snaps at the receiver position, but also 10 special teams snaps, where he contributed in the kicking game.

Through it all, Nixon continues to pursue his labor of love: the game of football.

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“He’s in the category of ‘nobody works harder’ than he does,” Belichick said of Nixon on Friday. “He’s one of the hardest workers on the team.”

Despite being one of New England’s breakout stars during minicamp, Nixon has had a comparatively quiet training camp, seeing most of his reps with the scout team. While his contributions to the team on Thursday night came against New York’s reserve defenders, Nixon made the most of his time against pro-level competition.

“Great feeling,” Nixon said postgame. “Going against the same guys for two weeks straight, they kind of know your tendencies, know what you like to do. But going against someone that is not a familiar face is really good because you actually get to try some stuff, what works, and what does not work.”

Internally, Nixon is also facing some stiff competition at the position. With strong performances from fellow wideouts (and roster hopefuls) Lil’Jordan Humphrey and Kristian Wilkerson, Nixon’s versatility and work ethic may need to set him apart. He continues to project as a vertical deep threat, with the ability to use his speed to shed defenders at the line. Though he has typically lacked some physicality, he has demonstrated the necessary toughness to make catches in tight coverage. This was evident against the Giants on Thursday, as Nixon adjusted in the air on both of the 30-plus yard receptions, putting himself in textbook position to make the catch.

With two series of joint practices and a pair of preseason games left on the schedule, Nixon will continue to maximize his opportunities, as he tries to make the strongest possible case to earn a spot on the Patriots 53-man roster.

“I believe just playing at a high pace, attacking, being aggressive … I feel like this is what training camp is, what a preseason game is. Trial and error, just getting better every day and continuing to improve.”

Nixon and the Patriots will return to the practice fields on Monday, Aug. 15 at 9:30 a.m. on the Gillette Stadium practice fields in Foxboro, Massachusetts.