“That’s the expectation here. When you look at the guys that have played here over the last decade, whether it’s man or zone, they’re doing it at a high level,” Mills told Patriots.com.
Entering his second season with the Patriots, the 2021 free-agent addition also feels more at home in Bill Belichick’s defense.
“I feel good. Being more comfortable in the scheme, whether it’s man or zone. Knowing where guys are going to be depending on the situation on first, second, or third down. Going out there and playing fast.”
“Being somewhere for so long, and last year being my first year here, totally new defense with different guys I wasn’t used to and now getting another full OTAs with those guys and going into my second camp, it’s night and day,” Mills said of his improved comfort level in the Pats system.
When Belichick targeted Mills in free agency, most thought the former Eagles defensive back would play multiple positions in the defense.
However, an ongoing contract and injury situation with former cornerback Stephon Gilmore forced the Patriots to play Mills on the outside, where he logged 75 percent of his snaps in 2021. After having some struggles at wide corner in Philadelphia, Mills held his own by allowing just a 58.3 completion rate and 440 yards into his coverage on 60 targets – respectable production.
Another positive that Mills is seeing from the Patriots defense is improved team speed, especially at the linebacker level, which has been notable from this perspective as well.