New England Patriots: 6 players to watch tonight

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3. Jordan Richards

From the moment he stepped in the Patriots’ practice facility, Richards has stood out. His football intelligence, high motor and team-first mentality make him a natural fit in the Patriot Way.

Unlike most of the rookies on the roster right now, Richards doesn’t have to worry about being cut. The Pats spent a valuable second-round pick on the Stanford product, and he has been rotating with Patrick Chung and Duron Harmon at the strong safety spot next to Devin McCourty throughout training camp.

In addition to proving his value in the secondary, Richards must continue to keep up the good work on special teams. He was one of four players who appeared in all four phases of special teams (kickoff, kick return, punt coverage, punt return) against the Packers, indicating that the Patriots think highly of the rookie’s special teams value.

Here’s a good video of Richards in coverage. Forcing arguably the best quarterback in football right now to think twice about throwing a ball down the middle isn’t too shabby for a rookie in his first live NFL action.

Next: 2. Ryan Groy