Safety in numbers at Patriots Training Camp

Safety in numbers at Patriots Training Camp

Three-time Super Bowl champion Patrick Chung was a guest at Patriots practice on Monday and while the team dynamics have certainly shifted since he played his last game in 2019, he should’ve felt right at home among the team’s deep and versatile safety group that appears in the early days of camp to be a budding strength.

“What he did in this defense speaks for itself,” said Jabrill Peppers of Chung, after making his debut on Monday and slowly integrating himself into the rotation while listening to various reps via walkie talkie. “He’s definitely somebody I’m glad to have around to bounce a couple of things off of.”

Despite returning their top three players in the group — Devin McCourty, Adrian Phillips and Kyle Dugger — the Patriots continued to add players, many in the mold of Chung such as Peppers, a 2017 first-round pick of the Browns known for his versatility to play in the box and along the line of scrimmage. Add in promising second-year player Josuah Bledsoe, who has also popped in the early going of camp, and the group position is stacked with options.

“Devin obviously knows everything about the defense spending forever here,” said safeties coach Brian Belichick. “AP and Dug have been here for a couple of years and they know a lot, they’ve played a lot of football for us, been very productive, good players for us. And then Peppers and [undrafted rookie Brendan] Schooler are newcomers who have to learn it from scratch and then we got [Bledsoe] who was here last year so he knows what he’s doing, but he doesn’t have a lot of experience on the field compared to the other guys.

“It’s good to have that mix of older guys to help out the younger guys and they’re all just out there competing, working hard.”

As one of the few veteran newcomers with a significant pedigree this season, Peppers is a true wild card for the defense. As a linebacker for Michigan, Peppers did a little of everything in college, returning kicks and punts, posting 125 career tackles, rushing for 239 yards and five touchdowns and even catching 10 passes for 82 yards. While his role in New England is unlikely to be as expansive as it was in college, the veteran is another moveable chess piece who should help the defense deal with the vast array of offenses on the schedule this season.

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