5 second-year Patriots players who need to step up in 2024

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Demario Douglas 

The Florida native became a fan favorite in New England almost immediately. Douglas flashed his elite foot speed in 2023 but only started seven games. Despite catching 49 passes, Douglas failed to score a touchdown in his rookie season. 

During his four years as a Liberty flame, Douglas caught 172 passes in 40 games. But he only scored 17 touchdowns in those 40 games. So, he’s never been a prolific redzone threat.  

“Pop,” as his friends call him, isn’t the Patriots' fastest receiver. That honor falls to Tyquan Thornton, who ran a 4.28-second 40-yard time at the 2022 combine (although he only started three games last year). Douglas ran a 4.44-second 40 in 2023.

But the second-year man is the most nimble; he has the sharpest breaks when he stems the route he's running and is very elusive once he has the ball in his hands.

Douglas’ diminutive stature was an issue last year, though. He fumbled the ball three times (although one of them was a result of Rhamondre Stevenson missing an open field block). But more serious than his mishandling were his concussion issues. He suffered the first concussion in October, which caused him to miss the Week 6 game against the Raiders.

His second concussion occurred in November and caused him to miss the games against the Chargers and Steelers. New offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt needs to find a way to keep Douglas out of the firing line while maximizing his undoubted talent.