FOXBOROUGH, Ma. -- Arguably the most intriguing nugget to come out of Patriots training camp thus far has been the emergence of rookie wide receiver Demario Douglas. The sixth-round pick out of Liberty has continued to stack positive days on top of the other and seems not only a viable contender to make the 53-man roster, but also to carve out a role for himself within New England's offense in 2023.
And he's not just wowing reporters watching him from afar. He's raising the eyebrows of his new teammates.
"Oh yeah, we noticed him," Jabrill Peppers said of Douglas after Day 5 of Patriots training camp. "He's out there making plays. The same thing you guys are seeing. We saw it early on in OTAs."
Douglas was selected with the 210th pick this past spring and, at the time, was assessed to be superb value withgiving the pick an A- grade. Through the early days of camp, Douglas has done nothing to take away from that initial optimism and has only raised his stock even higher.
"Douglas had a good spring and he's followed it up with a few couple good practices here," Bill Belichick said of the receiver on Sunday. "Again, training camp is a marathon, it's not a 100-yard dash. So, just keep grinding them together day after day."
Douglas has made a handful of notable plays in the receiving game and has already flashed his crisp route-running ability while getting reps with Mac Jones. While he was able to showcase his pass-catching ability through the first four days of camp, Monday's first full-padded session of the summer highlighted his toughness. During swing pass drills, the 5-foot-8, 192-pounder made a couple of near-textbook blocks. Those types of plays may not be as sexy as a stellar reception but will endear him to the coaching staff as he continues to make a pitch to be on the opening day roster.
"What's surprised me the most is his physicality," Peppers continued. "He's a smaller guy, but he's tough as nails. I think that will bode well for him."
Douglas registered 93 receptions for 993 yards and six touchdowns during his final season at Liberty and does seem to fit the mold of the gritty, shifty undersized receivers who have previously thrived in New England under Belichick's tenure. While it's certainly too early to start putting him in the same breath as Troy Brown, Wes Welker, Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman -- some of whom Douglas has already begun studying -- he's off to the type of start that can at least allow you to daydream about the possibility of him blossoming into a player of that magnitude.
It's also fitting that the player who is making the most noise with his play to this point in camp goes by "Pop" as his nickname.