Not even second-round picks get a second chance to make a first impression.
But that may not matter to Kyle Dugger, the Patriots top pick in last April’s draft.
The young safety out of Division II Lenoir-Rhyne is already impressing his veteran teammates with his versatility, work ethic and performance early on in his first NFL training camp.
“I just think it's been good. I'm always excited when you get new rookies in and guys that are eager to learn. And he's been like that,” Patriots safety and team captain Devin McCourty said in a Tuesday afternoon video call with the New England media. “I shared some messages with him before we even started, just talking to him about the defense, about being a professional a little bit. But he's been like that. I would say him and Myles [Bryant] in our room, the two new defensive backs, have both … You know, we try to quiz 'em, we try to ask them questions to catch 'em off guard. They answer 'em. You can tell they're both going home and studying at night, making sure that they're prepared. I think when you see that, you see guys doing that, it shows up on the field.”
McCourty knows, though, that it’s still extremely early in the development process for Dugger, especially given the way the offseason was limited by the coronavirus pandemic.
“But Dugg's been really good. I think any time you can get in there with a guy and just play together and talk to him and learn how we play and play off each other, it's been really good,” McCourty continued. “And he's got a chance to play with all of our safeties so far. So we've just gotta keep building that. Second day of pads, we're not in here doing a bunch of scheme stuff. More of that will come day by day. And I think as a veteran on the team, it's just making sure he can stay ahead and continue to improve in training camp.”
Dugger had an impressive interception in Tuesday’s practice at Gillette Stadium, hauling in a Jarrett Stidham throw.
“He just did a good job with it. I haven't watched the film yet. But any time you can make an interception -- practice, game -- it's a good play,” McCourty assessed of his young teammate who might have a larger role than expected as a rookie given Patrick Chung’s decision to opt out of the season.
“So we'll watch it and find the finer points of it. But I think he does a good job just being around the football, whether he's down, whether he's on the back end, he's done a good job of that so far.”
File that under positive first impressions for the Patriots second-round pick.