Marqise Lee talks the talk — but can he walk the walk with Patriots?

Marqise Lee said all the right things during his introductory video conference as the newest Patriots receiver. Can he practice what he preaches though?

For all intents and purposes, it seems like Marqise Lee has been a bit snakebit throughout his NFL career.

After getting selected in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars, Lee battled a wrist injury, a hamstring injury, and a leg injury throughout his rookie season. He then dealt with another hamstring injury as well as a knee injury in 2015.

Lee finally had his “breakout” season in 2016, his third year with the team. He managed to stay healthy for all 16 games that year and reeled in 63 receptions for 851 yards and three touchdowns.

While the former USC Trojan did miss the final two games of the 2017 season with an ankle injury, he was active in the playoffs — including against the New England Patriots in that season’s AFC Championship Game. Lee had 56 receptions for 702 yards and another three scores during the regular season, and he chipped in four catches for 42 yards against the Pats in a loss.

It seemed like Lee’s ship had finally come in. He signed a four-year, $38 million contract extension later that spring and entered the offseason atop the Jaguars’ receiving depth chart after the departures of Allen Hurns to the Cowboys and Allen Robinson to the Bears.

Unfortunately, it was not to last.

Lee suffered a severe knee injury that preseason and was lost for the year. He returned in 2019 and played all of six games before suffering yet another knee injury that landed him on IR once again.

Clearly frustrated by his propensity for getting injured, the Jags released Lee last month. Eight days later, New England head coach Bill Belichick came calling … and now Lee is a Patriot.

And according to ESPN’s Mike Reiss, Lee seems to already be buying into “the Patriot Way.” Here’s an excerpt of what he said this past Wednesday during his introductory video conference call with reporters:

“I felt like me choosing New England, it’s the perfect place to try to get back to yourself — very strict, basically just all about football and handling your business. I feel like I was a little bit off on that point with these last two injuries I had.”

Lee didn’t elaborate on what he meant in that last sentence, but it’s a bit curious, to say the least.

Injuries happen in professional football no matter how hard you work or how well you take care of yourself (unless you’re Tom Brady). It’d be strange for anyone to point a finger of blame at Lee for getting hurt playing the game he loves, but perhaps he knows more about his rehabilitation process and he’s alluding to the fact that he could have done a better job of preserving his body.

After all, the vast majority of his injuries in the NFL seem to involve his knee or hamstring. Clearly, he’s either very unlucky with his lower body thus far or he needs to do more to strengthen and protect those muscles.

Either way, it’s encouraging to hear him talk about the New England culture and how excited he is to be here now. He was a terrific player in college, and he certainly showed flashes of his potential during that two-year stretch as a Jaguar from 2016-2017 when he managed to stay largely healthy and on the field.

Next: Can Stidham and Lock reignite the Patriots/Broncos rivalry?

Now, it’s just a matter of seeing whether Lee can walk the walk and practice what he preaches in terms of his commitment to staying active, healthy, and on the field for the Patriots. New England certainly needs all the help they can get on offense in 2020 — especially with Brady no longer around and a noted lack of talent and depth at the pass-catching positions.

 

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