The New England Patriots clearly put an emphasis on overhauling their defense this offseason, because fans are going to see a lot of new faces on that side of the ball once Week 1 of next season rolls around in September.
Truth be told, that overhaul was necessary, as New England had far too many inexperienced players managing prominent roles.
Following their free agent splurge and outstanding draft, however, that figures to change in a big way.
With that being said, don’t expect the entirety of the young core to accept being brushed aside by the Patriots’ high-priced newcomers. After all, some of them, like linebacker Josh Uche, for instance, flashed potential in limited playing time.
Uche is widely being listed as a breakout candidate, and it’s easy to see why. During his media session on Friday, the 2020 second-round pick revealed he attended Broncos superstar Von Miller’s pass rushing summit in Las Vegas.
This has to bode well for Uche heading into Year 2, no?
Patriots’ Josh Uche could be poised for a breakout year in 2021.
We could be wrong, but Uche choosing to soak up knowledge from one of the most decorated pass rushers of the last decade sounds like a smart idea.
The Michigan product clearly put in the work this offseason and the rave reviews he’s received throughout OTAs and minicamp is a testament to that. Given all the adversity he dealt with as a rookie, Uche’s dedication deserves all the praise fans are willing to give him.
Of course, Uche was hampered by a foot injury during training camp and was inactive for the season opener. That injury turned out to be more serious than initially perceived and the touted rookie didn’t make his debut until Week 8. Believe it or not, the injury cropped up again later in the campaign and ended his season in December.
Uche went on to appear in nine games and recorded nine tackles (two for loss), one sack, seven quarterback hits and 10 pressures across 178 snaps. Those stats might not seem like much, but he really picked up steam down the stretch of the regular season.
In fact, according to Pro Football Focus, the only rookie to have a higher pass-rushing grade than Uche last year was Chase Young…the Defensive Rookie of the Year.
It appears the 22-year-old edge rusher has picked up on that momentum. Per a report from the Boston Globe, Uche managed at least four (would-be) sacks in team drills and “repped” with the starting group as an inside and outside linebacker.
Don’t look now, but Uche seems to have developed two must-haves for young Patriots players: confidence in his ability and growing trust from the coaching staff. In other words, a second-year leap could be on the horizon for the former Wolverine.