JuJu Smith-Schuster feels like he's back at school in his opening weeks with the New England Patriots.
The veteran wide receiver shared Tuesday some of the adjustments he's had to make at his new professional home after spending last season with the Kansas City Chiefs- and the prior five seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
One of those adjustments is learning the Patriots' playbook, and Smith-Schuster described it like he was preparing for an exam.
“I can say that I am definitely studying more and I’m getting the offense down,” Smith-Schuster said. “The terminology is different from what I’ve learned in the past. That just goes to say these coaches are really, really smart when it comes to football and knowing the game. Just knowing defense, terminology to the whole extent where every day I’m growing here. That’s what I love about being here. Every day is a new day and I’m going to keep growing.
“I feel like I’m back in college. After this, I’m going to go home, put a couple hours in, study, put on some Call of Duty, get back into studying and go back to my flashcards. I’m making flashcards. I’ve got a lot of flashcards. It’s awesome – the whole experience of just being here. That’s why I love football so much. You just keep growing.”
“The playbook is amazing, honestly,” Smith Schuster said. “It’s great. Bill [O’Brien] is great. He’s a great coach. He makes everyone feel welcomed, excited. Just happy to be a part of the team, but also ready to work.”
Smith-Schuster's praise of O'Brien is certainly welcomed news considering how the 2022 season went, when inexperienced offensive coaches Matt Patricia and Joe Judge ran the unit.
While many saw Bill Belichick's implementation of those two coaches as a possible sign of him losing his fastball, Smith-Schuster still holds the Patriots coach in such high regard.
He said in March that Belichick was a big reason why he signed with the team and reaffirmed that on Tuesday.
What was it that attracted JuJu Smith-Schuster to New England?
"It was Bill Belichick"
Smith-Schuster talks with @ZoandBertrand about his decision to sign with the Patriots pic.twitter.com/onFffFkeRW
— NBC Sports Boston's Patriots Coverage (@NBCSPatriots) March 21, 2023
“Honestly, Bill, man,” Smith-Schuster said when asked why he joined the Patriots. “Being at a place where he’s a great head coach, and as far as everything else goes, I just feel like I fit here.”
Smith-Schuster's first full season with the Patriots is just a couple weeks old. The offseason program began in mid-April and until Monday, players could only work with coaches in meetings.
Even if he hasn't had a good feel of the actual playing part yet, Smith-Schuster's had a good time in Foxborough so far.
“Just being here, honestly I love it,” Smith-Schuster said. “I can't express more than what I feel. Just being here. Being a part of this team. We have something special here. I feel like it’s going to show. It’s going to show this year.”