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Patriots WR Jakobi Meyers a difference-maker in return

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FOXBORO — Every quarterback needs a go-to-guy, but especially a rookie third-string quarterback who’s trying to survive his first NFL start.

Bailey Zappe didn’t have Jakobi Meyers in Green Bay, but welcomed having him as his slot receiver Sunday against Detroit.

Whether it’s Mac Jones, Brian Hoyer, or Zappe under center, Meyers’ presence is so important to the offense, as evidenced by his game-high seven receptions for 111 yards and a touchdown in the 29-0 win over the Lions.

Meyers had been out the last two games nursing a knee injury, and he was sorely missed. The Patriots lost both of those games (Baltimore, Green Bay) and his absence was noticeable. Just for Zappe to have Meyers as a dependable outlet was a godsend.

“It’s nice to have Kobs back out there. He has been in the league for a few years, so to have that veteran mentality back in the group is amazing,” said Zappe. “We know we have an all-around really good receiving group. Really the only job for us quarterbacks is to get those guys the ball and let them do what they do.”

What Meyers does is consistently get open. He moves the chains when necessary, or simply makes big plays at the key junctures.

Even with Rhamondre Stevenson running roughshod over the Lions defense, the Patriots were having trouble putting the ball in the end zone.

Aside from a fumble return for a score from Kyle Dugger, and Nick Folk kicking a lot of field goals, the offense had hit a wall in Lions territory.

With a 19-0 lead in the third quarter, the Patriots got some legitimate breathing space with Zappe connecting with Meyers for a 24-yard score.

It came off play-action. It was similar to the play last week against Green Bay where Zappe found a wide open DeVante Parker on the right side. Meyers said he’d never been so wide open catching a touchdown pass.

“My touchdowns are usually harder-fought,” Meyers said with a smile. “But I’ll take it. I’ll take it as they come. I’m not complaining.”

For his part, Meyers said his knee was feeling good and was just glad to be back. Watching games was getting a little tiresome.

“It was great (to be back). It’s a little boring watching on TV and watching on the sideline,” he said. “Just being out there, being able to do what I love again. I really enjoyed it … I felt like I was smiling the whole game. I felt like a kid again being out there. That was a special feeling. We got the win, which is most important.”

Meyers said with Zappe being in a “next-man up” situations, starting with both Jones and Hoyer on the shelf, the players want to do “the best we can for him.”

In that vein, along with catching the football, Meyers is one of the better blocking wide receivers in the game.

With the Patriots rushing for 176 – 161 of those belonging to Stevenson – the receivers had to do their share of blocking.

“Jakobi does a lot of great stuff for us. Not just catching the football. I have a lot of respect for how Jakobi blocks,” said center David Andrews. “He does a lot for our offense and is a dependable guy. He’s someone, as an offensive lineman, you know when you need someone to block, he’s going to go out there and stick his face in the fire a little bit.

“I really respect that. Jakobi is another undrafted guy, so he’ll always have a special place in my heart.”

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