The New England Patriots have been running a lot of 1-on-1 drills that pit defensive linemen on offensive linemen, and the results have been interesting to sift through. Both reclamation project Marcus Benard and project second-year DE Jake Bequette have been impressing in these drills, with Benard’s speed being an intriguing asset that would make him a quality rotational pass rusher on the Patriots. I currently have both of these guys on my projected 53-man roster, with Benard working his way in after some excellent performances. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick took the time to praise both of them, as well as another quality backup DE in Justin Francis, who is a darkhorse for a breakout season (Francis is a solid two-way DE).
Belichick said of Bequette, “Jake is a smart guy. He definitely understands what we’re doing, what they’re doing, and he’s improved a lot from last year. He’s in a real competitive situation with several other guys at that spot. I think he’s definitely holding his own.”
Bequette likely has the most upside of the backup defensive ends, but he isn’t a roster lock due to the depth at the position. Nobody is, but Bequette is ahead of the curve, is playing well, has the aforementioned youth and upside, and he’s more of a bet to make the roster than Jermaine Cunningham or Michael Buchanan.
Marcus Benard has a good track record as a pass rushing 3-4 OLB with the Cleveland Browns, but he’s been out of football for a while due to a motorcycle accident that set his career back big time. But Benard hasn’t shown signs of rust this training camp, and he’s been the opposite of rusty.
Belichick said this about Benard, “Works hard. Hard-working kid. He has a good attitude and a good motor. I think he’s been competitive. … He had a good start to his career and had a setback. We felt like he would be a good future signing, a good addition to this year, and he was here in the offseason and worked hard in the spring.”
Work ethic? With a great preseason, Benard will likely find himself on the Patriots 53-man roster.