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Who Was Surprise of Patriots Minicamp?

Mac Jones has gained some chemistry with a member of his draft class

FOXBORO — The New England Patriots are a team of expectations. They play in one of, if not the most, sports-crazed city in the country. Head coach Bill Belichick expects every player on the roster to help the team win. Rookies are drafted with the expectations to start and rack up numbers from the get-go.

But what about the players that have shattered the expectations so far?

Well, take a look at 2021 seventh-round selection Tre Nixon, who was the star of the show at the Patriots minicamp.

Nixon, who has gained notoriety among Patriots faithful for being the final draft selection by Ernie Adams, had a fantastic start to his early summer practices. The 24-year-old was on the receiving end of multiple 40-yard throws from fellow 2021 draft class member Mac Jones.

While Jones contributed immediately to the team’s success last season, Nixon spent a lot of time with his quarterback. The former University of Central Florida product shared that he would drive to the facility with Jones every day and that chemistry was evident during minicamp.

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“Everything’s just starting to slow down a little bit,” Nixon said. “I’ve still got a lot to learn. I’m still trying to find my role, but just compared to last year just a little bit slowing down.”

Yes, it is easy for pass-catchers to shine with no pads on and just in a t-shirt and shorts. But Nixon has taken a visibly leap up from his rookie season, which saw him sit on the practice squad all season.

“All the guys from year one to year two are way ahead of where they were last year on a lot of levels, preparation, training, knowledge of our game, knowledge of what's going on across from them,” Belichick said earlier this month. “He certainly falls into that category, but I would really put them all there.”

Nixon certainly has an uphill battle to crack the opening roster, as the Patriots went out and acquired two receivers this past off-season in DeVante Parker and Tyquan Thornton. Other position mates include Kendrick Bourne, Jakobi Meyers, Nelson Agholor, Kristian Wilkerson, N’Keal Harry, Lil’Jordan Humphrey and Malcolm Perry.

For New England fans, expecting the unexpected is something quite common in the Bill Belichick era. If Nixon can carry his minicamp momentum into the dog days of summer, fans can expect Tre Nixon to be a solid contributor this year.