New England Patriots: Brandin Cooks has impressed coaches early on

New England Patriots: Brandin Cooks has impressed coaches early on

The performance punctuated Flowers’ ascension to prominence in 2016, but he has been too hard on himself to care. Flowers has a mountain to climb, and he doesn’t believe he is anywhere near the peak because of one strong season or a few big plays on the NFL’s greatest stage.

“I don’t look too highly on it because last year was last year,” Flowers said. “The last game was the last game. I could look at that game, and there’s a lot of plays that I missed, a lot of opportunities that I missed that I should have had. That’s just all about staying hungry. Having the Super Bowl that I had in the biggest game of my career, understand while watching the film, ‘You did all right, but you could have done better.’

New England Patriots: Brandin Cooks has impressed coaches early on

New England Patriots

“I’ve got that mentality coming into the season. Any opportunity I’ve got, I want to improve on being more productive. This will be my first time coming in and being able to produce at a high level. Being able to understand my role; I know my role now. Being able to live in that role, I’m looking forward to it. I’m going to stay hungry.”

“The thing about me, I don’t feel too comfortable when I’m not working out,” Flowers said with an obsessive smirk last week, shortly after he was one of the final players to leave the field for the Patriots’ voluntary workout at Gillette Stadium.

Flowers didn’t get caught up in the Super Bowl LI afterglow. He instead opted to strengthen certain muscles that didn’t meet his standards. He also pored through his game film to assess his assortment of moves and counters, as well as the ways offensive linemen were blocking him.

For instance, if Flowers lined up a certain way, did it telegraph his ensuing move? If so, he plans to use that to his advantage in 2017 because he is working on a series of counter moves to attack offenses. Flowers led the Patriots last season with seven sacks, all of which came in the final nine games, so he is smart enough to recognize the likelihood that teams will game plan for him in 2017.

“Coming off of last year, I know a lot of guys are going to start looking at me now,” Flowers said. “A year ago, they probably weren’t paying much attention to me. They’re going to start studying me, game-planning me, and I watch film trying to see how I can counter off a move that they might be expecting. You’ve got to deal with it if they’re going to game plan for you, if they’re going to double team you. You’ve still got to remain productive, and that’s one of the reasons why I’m hard on myself.”
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