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Bill Belichick explains benching Demario Douglas: "There is nothing more important than ball security"

Hunter Henry says Patriots have to be "a lot more disciplined" after falling to 0-2
Hunter Henry says Patriots have to be "a lot more disciplined" after falling to 0-2 00:33

FOXBORO --  Demario Douglas is a dynamic and exciting player. The rookie receiver is one of the fastest players on the Patriots' roster, and a feel-good story after making the team as a sixth-round pick out of Liberty.

Douglas had a solid debut in Week 1 and looked like he was going to be a big part of the offensive game plan again Sunday night against the Dolphins. Mac Jones threw two passes his way on New England's first two drives, and Douglas caught both of them.

But that second reception ended with disaster, and ended Douglas' night as a pass-catcher. 

After catching a third-and-8 pass from Jones and making a cut up the field for a first down, Douglas saw daylight in front of him. He had visions of racing into the end zone for his first career touchdown, which would have given the Patriots a 7-3 lead, but Dolphins linebacker Bradley Chubb had other plans. 

Chubb caught up with Douglas and punched the ball out of his hand, and Miami pounced on the loose ball. The Dolphins recovered at their own 27-yard line, and went on an 11-play touchdown drive to take a 10-0 lead. 

"When I turned to go to the right, I saw the end zone and I kind of got excited," Douglas said after New England's 24-17 loss. "I forgot about the people coming from behind and just pulled my arm and let the ball go."

That was Douglas' sixth snap on offense, and it was also his last. He only saw the field as a punt returner the rest of the way, effectively benched by head coach Bill Belichick for his costly turnover.

It makes sense that a rookie would receive some punishment for fumbling an important possession away. Ball security is as important to Belichick as anything else in the game, and that's something he will always hammer home when given a chance.

Belichick evaded questions about Douglas' benching Sunday night, but was a little more open during his Monday morning appearance on WEEI's The Greg Hill Show

"We talk about ball security all the time. There isn't a day that goes by that we don't talk about it and the days that we're on the practice field we always work on it and then talk about it as things come up during the practice. Both sides of the ball," Belichick said Monday morning. "Taking the ball away and taking care of the ball; those are constants for everybody. Everybody that touches the ball, it's important to have ball security. We spend a lot of time and effort on it. We've got to do a better job."

It's an important lesson for sure, but benching Douglas took a player with explosive potential off the field for New England. With an offense that lacks game-changing players, subtracting Douglas from the equation made the Patriots margin for error even slimmer. 

"We have other skill players on offense too," Belichick said when prodded about Douglas' benching on Monday. "There's nothing more important than ball security."

That message was received loud and clear on Sunday night, as Douglas said ball security is going to be his focus going forward.

"I feel like this will definitely help me," the rookie said. "Just know the speed of the game, everybody is coming to that ball. So I know, for me, I just need to make sure my awareness is high.

"Whenever I get back in there, I'm going to make it count," he added.

Douglas' fumble was the third time the Patriots have turned the ball over in the first quarter this season. With the team now sitting at 0-2 on the season, taking care of the football is atop New England's laundry list of things they need to do better.

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