Belichick reveals which Pats position group he's most confident in before cuts


The New England Patriots have several positions lacking the ideal amount of both talent and depth as Week 1 of the 2022 NFL season approaches, but there's one particular group in very good shape.

Longtime ESPN NFL studio host Chris Berman was at Patriots practice on Monday, and he asked head coach Bill Belichick which position group he feels most confident in ahead of Tuesday's deadline for teams to trim rosters from 80 to 53 players.

Belichick identified an area of his defense.

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"I would say the safety group is a pretty impressive group," Belichick said. "It's good to see Jabrill [Peppers] out on the field. Devin [McCourty], AP [Adrian Phillips], [Kyle] Dugger, played a lot of football for us last year. You add Jabrill to that mix and Myles [Bryant] has also played safety for us out of the corner group.

"So between those five guys it's a pretty deep position. But we've shown packages, and used packages last year with all three safeties on the field. Jabrill wasn't here obviously. [Joshuah] Bledsoe has had a good camp as well. So I think that's a pretty competitive position, not just for roster spots, but also for playing time and how that gets distributed. So I would say that's probably my No. 1."

It's hard to argue with Belichick's answer.

Running back is another group where the Patriots are loaded with talent and depth, but the safety depth chart has an impressive combination of youth, experience, coverage ability, tackle skill, high football IQ and athleticism.

McCourty obviously is the leader of the group as a 12-year veteran and a lock for the Patriots Hall of Fame at some point. Dugger had a strong second season and should reach a higher level in 2022. He's definitely among the top "breakout" candidates on defense. Phillips was an excellent signing before the 2020 season. He has tallied over 200 total tackles with six interceptions in two years with the Patriots. 

The real question mark in the secondary is cornerback. The departures of Stephon Gilmore and J.C. Jackson over the last year have left the Patriots without a true No. 1 cornerback to lock down the opposing team's best wide receiver. That role likely will be given to Jalen Mills, and how well he performs in it could be a huge determining factor in the defense's success this season.

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