Patriots rookie LB Josh Uche has been impressing at training camp.
There’s been a growing uneasiness among fans in New England that the Patriots pass rush will take a notable step back in 2020 following the shipment of losses its defense sustained this offseason.
When it comes to getting after the quarterback, their most glaring departures came in the form of Jamie Collins and Kyle Van Noy, both of whom left in free agency and combined to post 137 tackles, 13.5 sacks, and 25 QB hits last year. While linebacker Dont’a Hightower isn’t regarded as a proficient pass rusher, he’s imperative to New England’s scheme, so his choice to opt out was another crushing blow.
However, we’re here to tell Patriots fans to quell those concerns. The latest buzz suggests that rookie Josh Uche has been emerging in a big way during the early stages of training camp.
“Right now I’m just doing whatever is needed of me, whatever the coaches are asking me,” Uche told reporters after practice on Monday. “Each and every day, just improving slowly and surely, brick by brick. I put pressure on myself every day. That’s the way my dad raised me, so whatever the coaches tell me to do, I’m trying to I’m doing my best to get that done.”
Across four years at Michigan, the Wolverines never found a consistent position for Uche. The 21-year-old linebacker didn’t start more than 10 games until his senior season, as he was largely deployed as a situational defender.
A few months after being drafted in the second round, however, it appears the Patriots know exactly how to utilize him — as a jack-of-all-trades and master of none. We can expect Uche to be used similarly to the likes of Collins and Van Noy as a hybrid linebacker who can be the anchor in the middle of the defense or disrupt on the edge as a pass rusher, with the majority of his snaps coming in that role.
Uche had two sacks during Monday’s practice and continues to see significant reps with the first-team defense.
The Patriots are going to need a number of players to step up this season, and we wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if Uche is one of them. Let’s hope the former Wolverine keeps impressing at camp and carves out a big role for himself in 2020.