Heading into his third year, the former UCLA Bruin is facing an uphill battle to maintain a spot on the 53-man roster. After practicing at defensive back and receiver in his first year with the Patriots (hence the blue practice jersey, worn by defensive players, in this photo), Slater has since had his focus shifted solely to receiver. But New England has some promising young receivers, including Brandon Tate
and Taylor Price, who are also capable of playing special teams, which
is where Slater has primarily made his bones the last two years.
Yet Slater insists he won’t approach things any differently.
“My approach this year is the same it has been the last few years,” he said Thursday after the Pats’ final mini-camp practice. “You just have to come out and work hard, you can’t worry about the numbers or anything like that, you can’t think about it, you’ve just got to come out and whatever they ask me to do, I’ve got to try to do to the best of my ability, come out here and compete.
“I know at the end of the day the Lord’s will is going to be done, and my faith is what really keeps me focused on the job and I just come out and try to enjoy myself and try to take advantage of the opportunity to compete.”
Watching him this spring, it was clear Slater won’t go down easily — he made several nice catches.
“I have been having fun — I love football. To be able to do this for a
living, I’m one of the luckiest men alive. So I know I’m extremely
blessed to have this opportunity. Whatever the situation is, I can’t
think about it, I just have to come out here and play and whatever
happens, happens,” he said.
The son of Hall of Fame offensive lineman Jackie Slater, who played for the Los Angeles Rams, Slater has been around the game his entire life. His father taught him that every day in the NFL is a blessing, and that’s the approach he takes.
He’s taking advantage of having veteran players David Patten and Torry Holt around this offseason as well.
“I’ve been like a sponge; I can learn so much from those guys, on and off the field, the way they carry themselves,” he said. “David Patten has been huge for me to have around personally, not only on the field, but spiritually off the field, and Torry is someone I’ve respected for a long time because he was on the Rams and my dad worked with him.
“Just about everybody out here has more experience than me, so if there’s something I can learn from anybody, I just try to stay humble and stay hungry and continue to work on it.”
Extremely likable and highly appreciated by media members for his stand-up ways, Slater will head home to California during the Pats’ summer break to spend time with his parents and brother David.