Rodney Harrison offers sound advice for Jonnu Smith amid early struggles

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Jonnu Smith isn’t playing up to the expectations the New England Patriots had for him when dishing out a four-year, $50 million deal.

The veteran tight end was ascending as a key playmaker for the Tennessee Titans and his 2020 season was the best of his career — totaling 41 catches for 448 yards and eight touchdowns. He’s only had 16 catches for 124 yards and a touchdown through six games thus far in New England.

There appears to be a mental block in place and it likely could’ve stemmed from the loss to the New Orleans Saints. Smith’s day was riddled with mistakes and drops — spotlighted by the pass he dropped that turned into a pick-six for New Orleans.

Former Patriots safety Rodney Harrison joined WEEI’s “Merloni & Fauria” Thursday and gave the tight end some solid advice.

“I remember him when he was with the Titans,” he said. “Before I would see flashes of him as he made his way and kind of became a veteran player in this league and I used to always say, ‘The Titans don’t use him enough. The Titans don’t use him enough.’ What he’s going to have to do is he’s going to have to get to a point, forget about all the expectations and the big contract and just go out there and play. He seems like he’s fighting the ball, he’s not relaxed. The kid has so much talent and so much ability that it’s like he’s putting added pressure on himself. He’s finally got the financial security he’s looking for, this is the time just to relax and go out there and play. He doesn’t have to play scared or anything like that.

“I am looking for him to really step up because the expectations when he came here was that this dude could do a lot of different things — [create] mismatches for linebackers, safeties and even cornerbacks because he’s a very, very talented kid. He just needs to relax and play football.”

Smith has the support of his team and there’s still a long season of football ahead. If he can shake the mental block — the days of Smith taking over games could be right around the corner.

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