Patriots kickoff 2016: A look at Jonathan Freeny
Since the New England Patriots open 2016 in 55 days, we’re profiling the owner of the No. 55 jersey, linebacker Jonathan Freeny.
Size: 6-foot-2, 242 pounds
2015 stats: 26 tackles, one sack, forced fumble, two fumble recoveries pass defended
NFL experience: Four seasons
Freeny comes from the Rutgers defensive pipeline that Bill Belichick likes to tap periodically. He went undrafted out of school, signing with the Miami Dolphins before 2011 training camp. After a rookie year on the practice squad, Freeny went on to play three seasons on the Dolphins’ active roster, primarily as a special teamer.
8 most essential players on Patriots’ roster
Over the course of 2012 through 2014, Freeny appeared in 44 games for the Dolphins. In that action, he registered 26 total tackles and a sack. In his first year in New England, Freeny matched those three years of tackle production.
The increase in playing time as a result of the injury woes of the three top linebackers last year, Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins and Jerod Mayo. Perhaps the highlight of Freeny’s season was recovering a fumble in the first half of the AFC Championship Game.
Recent installments in Patriots kick-off countdown profile series:
59 days – No. 59 Rufus Johnson
60 days – No. 60 David Andrews
61 days – No. 61 Marcus Cannon
Entering the 2016 season, Freeny has a decent shot at maintaining the No. 3 linebacker spot behind Hightower and Collins. Shea McClellin may push him for that role, but it’s anyone’s guess as to where the former Chicago Bear will play (McClellin was tried at defensive end in OTAs). A year of experience in the Patriots’ defensive system, and proven special teams value, gives Freeny the upper hand over newcomers Ramon Humber, Elandon Roberts and C.J. Johnson.
Ranking the Patriots’ interior defensive linemen
Freeny isn’t the kind of player you want to build your defense around, but he is a solid depth option and a dependable special teamer. Belichick sure does like those Rutgers guys.
Next: 10 Most Exciting Sophomore Pros on Pats Roster
Be sure to stop by the site tomorrow as we mark 54 days until Patriots kickoff by checking in on the owner of the No. 54 jersey, linebacker Dont’a Hightower.