Josh Uche didn’t get on the sphere till Week 8, however that wasn’t a sign of his expertise stage. The Patriots rookie linebacker received off to a gradual begin in 2020, however the second-round decide has turned out to be a vibrant spot in an in any other case disappointing season.
Popping out of Michigan, Uche was used as a situational move rusher. He amassed 14.5 sacks over his final two collegiate seasons, however wasn’t an every-down participant. It’s taken a while this yr, however the Patriots have seen an athletic and versatile defensive participant, who seems to have a promising future forward of him.
On Monday evening, Uche began his first NFL recreation and he did so at center linebacker. This got here after Uche was primarily enjoying as a move rusher off the sting. The 22-year-old left the sport with a foot damage, however Invoice Belichick has been impressed with this first-year participant.
“I like Josh. I feel he’s carried out a whole lot of constructive issues for us within the kicking recreation and defensively,” Belichick mentioned Wednesday. “Has some versatility. We have been attempting to determine that out early – what his finest spot could be. Took a short time for all of that to materialize. He was inactive a part of the yr, however he’s positively going to assist us. He’s a great soccer participant.”
Uche was inactive to begin the season after which landed on the injured reserve. Nevertheless, we did see the Patriots play the linebacker at each center linebacker and out of doors linebacker in coaching camp, so his versatility hasn’t been an entire shock this season.
When Uche returned to the sphere, nevertheless, it was a shock how rapidly he was one of many Patriots finest move rushers. In 9 video games this season, Uche has seven quarterback hits and one sack. He missed the primary seven video games, has just one begin and nonetheless ranks tied for third on the Patriots in quarterback hits.
Uche’s rise has actually been a constructive improvement for the Patriots.
“We’ll have the ability to outline his function and his scenario a lot better subsequent yr – after a yr of expertise with him,” Belichick mentioned. “Wanting ahead to that, however he’s positively going to be an asset for us. If he continues to work and enhance, he’s received a great future.”