FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Patriots head coach Bill Belichick took time to praise the leadership of Donte' Stallworth, who enters his 10th season in the NFL, and his second stint in New England.
The veteran receiver may not necessarily agree with his coach’s assessment of him as a leader, but he has taken on a tutor rule to the younger wideouts on the roster.
"I really don’t think of myself like that, I just try to go out and help out the young guys as much as I can because I was once that guy," he said. "And anything I see from the younger guys that they might not notice that they’re doing, I try to pull them to the side and tell them some things here and there. Mainly I just try to do the things that I’ve learned throughout my career."
"When I was back here [in] ’07, it was my fifth or sixth year in the league, and I was still one of the youngest players on the team. ... Throughout my career I’ve picked up a lot of things, learned a lot from those guys and now that I’m here, I’m in my 10th year, I try to help out the young guys as well, the way that those guys helped me out."
Chief among the lessons that Stallworth imparts to the less-tenured receivers is seizing the opportunity they have at this time.
"I tell them to take advantage of it, of the opportunities that you’re given because you never know when it’s going to be over. Whatever it’s due to, an injury, or the numbers thing, you never know when your opportunity is going to come, so you have to make the most of it."
Stallworth has his second opportunity with the Patriots, and believes himself to be a different and more mature person now.
"I know I matured as a player, matured as a person. I’m a lot smarter now than I was then. And I think more so when I was back here, at the age 26, playing more so off of talent. Now I’ve kind of developed into a smarter player, a better route runner and things like that."