The New England Patriots‘ wide receivers and tight ends might be the most criticized unit in the NFL in 2020. Because of the negativity that has been fired their way, you have to expect Julian Edelman and Co. will come out playing with a vengeance on Sunday.
All that said, the Patriots still really need help at the position. The team knows it, and that’s precisely why Bill Belichick had former Cincinnati Bengals receiver Damion Willis in for a workout.
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Patriots Work Out Damion Willis
Willis, a former star at Troy University, came in with a handful of other players at different positions for the late-week workout.
Of all the teams in the NFL who held workouts on Friday, the Patriots hade the most with five. Willis is undoubtedly the name that sticks out because he plays the position of need for the Patriots, and when it comes to measurables, he has the look of a formidable receiver.
Willis’ Journey to the NFL
During his time with the Bengals in 2019, which was his rookie season, the 23-year-old Willis appeared in 10 games and actually had two starts. Willis made nine catches for 82 yards on 16 total targets. Willis hasn’t shown the ability to be a No. 1 receiver by any means, but if he can gain separation down the field and create a threat, he could be an asset to the Patriots’ passing game.
Take a look at him in action in college.
The Mississippi native needs a legit opportunity to prove he’s capable of making a difference, and if he makes the Patriots’ team, this could as good of a look as he’ll have this year.
Willis appeared on the Netflix special Last Chance U. He’s had to be especially diligent to maintain his dream of playing in the NFL. The fact that he was able to work his way into a starting spot says something about his talent.
Willis spent some time on the Cleveland Browns’ practice squad earlier this year, but he didn’t stick. Here’s what Jeff Risdon of USA Today had to say about Willis:
At 6-4 and 204 listed pounds, Willis is a long, lean receiver. The Bengals used him primarily outside but he did get some reps as their big slot, and that’s where he was most effective in Cincinnati. It’s probably his best fit in Cleveland, too. He has speed (4.48 40-yard dash at his pro day) but it’s fairly straight-line, and that shows in his route-running. Willis can make catches away from his body and uses his length well to present himself as a big target. While he’s not a muscular guy, Willis can fight for contested throws and hang on through contact. He’s flashed the ability to climb the ladder and catch high throws. There’s not a lot of wiggle or power after the catch.
The Patriots are hopeful he shows some of the promise he displayed at Troy and during short spurts with the Bengals.
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