FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Rookie free-agent tight end Jacob Hollister admitted to “having butterflies” for the New England Patriots’ preseason opener Thursday night against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Gillette Stadium.

No word if Hollister caught the butterflies, but he caught virtually everything else.

“I was just trying to do my job and it was just a product of the coaches getting me ready and feeling good,” Hollister said after posting game-high totals of seven receptions in nine targets for 116 yards in a 31-24 loss. “Everybody did their job for most of the night. Still made a lot of mistakes but looking forward to getting better.”

There isn’t much doubt that Hollister needs work as a blocker – the knock against him coming out of college – but it was difficult to find fault with his overall performance. Hollister showed great toughness in turning aside a couple of vicious hits from defenders that drew major penalties.

“I think I needed a couple of those hits to get me going, especially those first couple of big hits,” said Hollister. “I got riled up both times.”

When it was over, Hollister had made the most of his opportunity on a night when the four veteran tight ends the Patriots brought to training camp – Rob Gronkowski, Dwayne Allen, Matt Lengel and James O’Shaughnessy – didn’t set foot on the field.

Of the team’s six tight ends, only Hollister and Sam Cotton, another rookie free agent, played in the game, Cotton making one catch in two targets for 22 yards.

“He’s done a good job of adapting to the things we’ve asked him to do,” Coach Bill Belichick said of Hollister. “He’s learning, but he’s got a long way to go.

“There are a lot of things that he needs work on in all phases of the game – running game, passing game, kicking game. But he’s a hard-working kid. He’s out there every day and he’s made improvement. Had an opportunity to make a couple of plays Thursday night and made them, so that was good.”

Hollister’s road to New England had a few stops. He bounced from spot to spot, redshirting as a true freshman at Nevada, then transferring to Arizona Western Community College before earning a scholarship from Wyoming.

Along the way, he found himself in the same programs as his twin brother, Cody, a rookie free-agent wide receiver who also happens to be in camp with the Patriots.

The twins proved double trouble for opponents at Mountain View High in Oregon, forming a battery that saw Jacob throw for 1,855 yards and 31 touchdowns as the quarterback, and Cody catch 64 passes, 15 for TDs, as seniors as the Cougars won the 5A state championship.

In 2011, they brought the city of Bend its first state title in 71 years.

The pair parted ways in college, Cody going on to Arkansas when Jacob went off to Wyoming, where he played in 30 games, catching 75 passes for 1,114 yards and 12 touchdowns, 32 catches for 515 yards and seven TDs as a senior.

On Thursday night, Jacob Hollister may not have felt like a seasoned veteran but sure played like one.

“I definitely was having butterflies,” Hollister said, “but after getting through the first couple of plays I started getting into a rhythm and started feeling good. It’s an NFL game, so definitely had some butterflies going into it.”

He came out of it with those seven receptions and the confidence of fourth-year quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who called him a “savvy player.”

“I think that’s one of the most important things, just getting trust from the quarterbacks, trying to make it obvious to those guys that I can make plays and make them feel comfortable throwing to me,” said Hollister. “I’m just doing what I can for the team and showing all of my teammates I can be trustworthy.”

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