FOXBORO — Cornerbacks aren’t usually identified to quietly go about their enterprise.
Check out one in all Deion Sanders’ information conferences as Colorado’s head coach for those who’re on the lookout for proof.
But Christian Gonzalez matches extra into the character mildew of soft-spoken ex-Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore, and the rookie’s play spoke loud and clear in a seemingly unattainable NFL debut matchup in opposition to A.J. Brown and Devonta Smith. Gonzalez let up seven catches on 10 targets for 71 yards in opposition to one of many NFL’s greatest huge receiver duos whereas breaking apart a cross on fourth down and offering high quality assist within the run sport. He was one in all three Patriots defenders to be on the sphere for 100% of snaps.
Patriots veteran security Adrian Phillips quipped after Sunday’s sport that he thought Gonzalez “said three words all game.”
“He’s been good,” defensive again Myles Bryant mentioned of Gonzalez on Thursday. “He’s a real quiet guy, but he comes to work every day, takes the coaching from not only the coaches but the players, as well. He’s just here to get better.”
Gonzalez will likely be one of many Patriots’ most vital gamers in Week 2 in opposition to the Dolphins as cornerback Jonathan Jones’ standing bears monitoring. Jones popped up on the harm report Thursday with an ankle ailment. He was not current for Friday’s apply session and is formally questionable to play Sunday.
Jones has been efficient by means of the years in slowing down Dolphins All-Pro huge receiver Tyreek Hill. Jaylen Waddle is among the NFL’s greatest huge receivers, as nicely.
Gonzalez mentioned he’s been choosing Jones’ mind within the assembly room.
“Just learning about how he plays it and things he’s done well,” Gonzalez mentioned. “Trying to take that into my game.”
And Jones’ message?
“Just staying where your feet at, trust the game plan,” Gonzalez mentioned. “Just trust each other. Just go out there and execute and have fun.”
If Jones can’t play Sunday evening, the Patriots might want to rely on Marcus Jones and Myles Bryant to play together with Gonzalez at cornerback. Prospective starter Jack Jones is on injured reserve with a hamstring ailment.
Hill and Waddle play a lot in a different way than Brown and Smith, however they’re simply pretty much as good of a tandem, if not higher.
“Trusting the game plan and coaches are gonna set us up for a good game plan,” Gonzalez mentioned about what he can take from his success final week into Sunday evening. “Just going out there and trying to execute and play team ball, team defense and do what we do.”
Gonzalez was an ideal match for the Patriots protection with the seventeenth general decide as a result of the unit fairly desperately wanted a cornerback along with his 6-foot-2, 205-pound body to tackle greater receivers like Brown.
But the 21-year-old defender additionally comes with 4.38-second 40-yard sprint velocity and silky easy change of route for his large body. It’s practically unattainable to maintain up with Hill and Waddle, however Gonzalez has a mix of velocity and physicality that ought to be efficient.
“It’s my game,” the rookie mentioned about defending smaller, shiftier huge receivers. “Just playing my game, playing what the coaches want. Just doing what I do day in and day out.”
He’ll want some assist, nonetheless, particularly if the huge receiver he’s protecting is used within the Dolphins’ wheel movement after they’re basically given a operating head begin into their route. The Dolphins use Hill successfully on these performs.
“A lot of times when he’s in motion, you gotta take him away as the primary target,” retired Patriots security Devin McCourty instructed the Herald over the telephone on Thursday. “They can use him as a decoy and get away and go to different guys, however I believe you must power that. I believe when he does go on these motions, whoever the free man is whether or not it’s the free security or in the event that they’re in cut up security, you simply must have a heightened consciousness of him being that movement man as a result of whoever that nook is protecting him, it’s only a lot harder.
“If you’re down, it’s harder to press a guy who’s kind of circling in motion like that. And if you’re back, it’s hard to tell really how fast he’s coming at you. I think they just need to have a heightened awareness when he is in motion to possibly push the coverage a little bit.”
Jonathan Jones thought Gonzalez “played very well” in Week 1 in opposition to Brown and Smith. Jones has confidence within the rookie first-rounder and handed alongside his recommendation to the Oregon product about enjoying Hill and Waddle for the primary time.
“It’s just a game,” Jones mentioned. “As a rookie, your head is spinning, there’s a lot going on, but it’s just a game. He has that demeanor about him. He comes out, he stays focused and he’ll be ready.”
It’s actually not supreme if Jones can’t play Sunday evening. But it’s one other invaluable check to see how far more the Patriots can throw at their first-round decide as they get set for a litany of adverse receivers this season.