The New England Patriots will be relying on Jalen Mills a lot in 2022.
New England’s defense suffered some major losses including the departure of J.C. Jackson. That means that at the moment, Mills is the top corner for the Patriots.
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The former Philadelphia Eagle talked about the challenge of being deployed against the opponent’s top wide receiver.
“That’s the standard here,” Mills told reporters Thursday, August 4. “Corners here from the past decade, guys being able to line up play man-to-man, play zone, whatever it may be, you’ve got to be able to step up to the challenge.”
In 2021, Mills had a mediocre season tallying 47 tackles and a fumble recovery. Now in his second season with a full offseason in New England under his belt, Mills is much more comfortable with the Patriots.
“Being somewhere for so long, and last year being my first year here, totally new defense with different guys I wasn’t used to and now getting another full OTAs with those guys and going into my second camp, it’s night and day,” Mills stated.
What Does Mills Think of the Patriots Wide Receivers?
On the other side of the ball, New England has made some acquisitions. DeVante Parker was acquired via a trade with the Miami Dolphins and is now the only wide receiver on the Patriots roster to ever record a 1,000-yard season.
“He’s a savvy guy,” Mills said of Parker. For him to be that tall, he can run. Obviously we know he can jump up and catch the ball. … He’s a guy who can run those short-to-intermediate routes, and we know at any point in time that he can take the top off. Definitely, going against him has been a challenge.
“Any time he breaks the huddle and he comes to my side, I think the ball’s coming. So, that keeps me on edge, and that’s what I like.”
Mills also talked about the speedy Tyquan Thornton who was drafted in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft. While noting his speed, Mills also talked about Thornton’s route running.
“The pads don’t slow him down,” Mills stated. “Of course, we know he’s fast. But the biggest thing for me is seeing him not running go routes every single play. We see him run short and intermediate routes as well. That’s what you want to see, especially with fast guys.”
Who Will Help Mills Out?
Mills appears to have the top corner spot locked down but who will play opposite of him remains a mystery. Terrence Mitchell has received some looks but Malcolm Butler was also mixed in.
The Patriots signed Butler out of retirement this offseason. While a full season of rest might do Butler some good, the 32-year-old will need to get up to speed quickly this season.
But Jalen Mills is feeling much more comfortable in New England and hopefully, he will have a much better performance for the Patriots in 2022.