He still hasn’t had his first Dunkin’, but rookie Christian Gonzalez is starting to settle in with the Patriots

Patriots

“I definitely see one on every corner. It’s different. Still haven’t had it, but maybe I’ll try it out.”

New England Patriots cornerback Christian Gonzalez during an NFL preseason football game against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium, Thursday, Aug. 10, 2023 in Foxborough, Mass.
Christian Gonzalez has settled into a featured role on New England’s defense. (Winslow Townson/AP Images

He only has two preseason games under his belt, but Patriots rookie Christian Gonzalez has looked right at home in New England’s defense.

But away from the gridiron, it’s clear that the 21-year-old cornerback still has some work to do when it comes to immersing himself in the treasured cuisine found across New England.

“We don’t [have] a lot of Dunkin’ in Dallas, or when I was at Oregon — there weren’t a lot of Dunkin Donuts,” Gonzalez admitted after Tuesday’s practice in Foxborough. “Being here, I definitely see one on every corner. It’s different. Still haven’t had it, but maybe I’ll try it out.”

Shirking in his obligation to snag an iced regular after spending close to four months within the Commonwealth means there’s still room to grow for Gonzalez, who says he still misses his beloved fast-food chain back home in Texas: Whataburger.

After spending most of minicamp as one of New England’s starting outside corners, Gonzalez has entrenched himself at that spot on the depth chart as the competition has ratcheted up during preseason games and scrappy joint practices.

“It was just a lot of fun to be able to go up there and practice against a different team and see different receivers and learn from them and then learn from the vets that tell me what’s coming in the film room and meetings, then going back out there and being able to practice against them and then play them in the game,” Gonzalez told reporters on Tuesday.

Gonzalez’s athleticism and fluidity in coverage have been apparent since his first reps on New England’s practice fields, validating New England’s decision to snag the former Oregon Duck with the 17th overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.

But Gonzalez’s knack for learning on the fly and adding some thump to his game has allowed him to counter any potential setbacks that present themselves for any rookie learning the ropes over a grueling training camp.

Saturday’s performance against the Packers in preseason action was another step in the right direction for Gonzalez.

After getting picked on by Packers QB Jordan Love during Wednesday’s joint-practice session, Gonzalez rebounded the following morning, breaking up a pass on a deep ball to Romeo Doubs.

Having a short memory is an essential part of life as a defensive back in the NFL. And even though one of the knocks against Gonzalez has been his lack of physicality, he landed four tackles during Saturday’s contest at Lambeau Field.

He also was called for a harsh defensive pass interference penalty that should have resulted in an interception for New England’s defense.

While in tight coverage against Packers WR Malik Heath, Gonzalez managed to tip the ball at the last second — allowing Brad Hawkins to scoop up the ball for the pick. Gonzalez’s DPI was a pretty ticky-tack call, but the rookie isn’t dwelling on it.

“At this position, you’ve got to move on, you can’t dwell on one play,” Gonzalez said. “You make a play, move on. You miss a play, move on. That’s just kind of how the position is and if you give up a play or you make a play you move on and learn from it, what you did or what you didn’t do in the classroom.”

At this stage of the preseason, Gonzalez should have a starting spot on New England’s defense all but shored up.

But even though the poised defensive back has already carved out a regular role at this stage of his young career, he isn’t taken his fast start for granted.

“I’m blessed to be here, to wake up and play football, that’s really what I’m proud of,” Gonzalez said. “I dreamed of it since I was a little kid and it’s here and it’s happening. Living in the moment, staying in the moment and trying to get better.”

Originally posted 2023-08-23 01:01:30.


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