Underperforming Edge Rusher Expected to Be ‘Big Part’ of Patriots Defense

New England Patriots

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he New England Patriots will need multiple players to step up on defense but one player who is receiving praise ahead of the 2022 NFL regular season might surprise fans.

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After the departure of J.C. Jackson, there is a large hole in New England’s secondary. The Patriots also have yet to re-sign Dont’a Hightower who remains a free agent. New England also no longer has Kyle Van Noy.

The Patriots have been able to partially fill the hole left by Jackson by signing Malcolm Butler out of retirement. At linebacker, New England acquired Mack Wilson from the Cleveland Browns and re-signed Ja’Whaun Bentley.

Defensive coach Steve Belichick spoke to the media for the second straight day on Tuesday and had high praise for edge rusher Josh Uche.

“I see him as part of the, since it’s the hot word right now, part of the blueprint. I see him being an important piece to the puzzle for us going forward,” Belichick said via WEEI. “There’s a lot of factors to it besides what he’s going to do. We have to see what everybody else does and work the pieces around from there. I see Josh being a big part of this defense. We’ll see how the competition plays out. Josh is another guy who’s doing everything right, who’s putting a lot of hard work in, setting up as well as he could to help us out on the field once we get to camp. It’s all just a building process. He’s done everything right so far.”

How Has Josh Uche Performed in the NFL

Uche hasn’t received a ton of playing time since being drafted in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft. He has appeared in 21 games over two seasons only receiving one start.

The edge rusher also only has four sacks, 11 QB hits, and 12 tackles so far in his career.

Still, Belichick is confident that the Patriots have at the position.

“I would agree with that. Yeah, these guys haven’t played as much football as those guys,” Belichick said via WEEI. “Even though, again, we kind of have to see what we’ve got here, but we got what we got. And we feel good about it. So we’ll shoot our shot and see how it goes.”

Putting in the Work

Even though players such as Uche will have to replace veteran players with established careers, Belichick doesn’t believe that they are just experimenting at the position.

“I don’t look at it as developmental, from the aspect of you’re starting with nothing and just kind of see what you get and throw it out there,” Belichick said via WEEI. “You brought up an interesting word with the blueprint, so in terms of building structures you need a blueprint going in and I’m sure things happen along the way. I’ve never really built a house or anything like that, but when I’m building my daughter’s playhouse certain obstacles come my way and you just gotta react and adapt to what happens. That’s what we always try to do. We put a plan in place. We have a foundation. But at the same time we’re always changing and adapting and expanding what we do. So we’ll try some of that stuff out and see how it looks. If it looks good we’ll keep going in that direction. If it doesn’t, we’ll try to do what we feel is best for the team. We’re just working through what we got and kind of see how it shakes out. But we absolutely have a plan going forward.”



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