NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas
Patrick Chung’s return to Foxboro was much quieter than his departure.
But after a challenging season with the Philadelphia Eagles, the 2009 second-round pick is back where his NFL career began as a member of the New England Patriots.
He doesn’t know if he’ll start a game for New England in 2014. He doesn’t know if he’ll be on the 53-man roster come September. Yet the 26-year-old safety does know that his experience in the system, as well as his special teams and his leadership, can be invaluable to the youth around him.
Fifth-year Patriots safety Devin McCourty agrees.
“Pat’s a true pro,” McCourty said after Day 4 of Patriots training camp on Sunday. “He’s a guy who comes in every day ready to work. He understands the defense. I think he’s another model citizen for the younger guys.”
Chung wore No. 25 for 50 games and 30 starts over four seasons with the Patriots. He wore it for 239 tackles, three sacks, 19 pass deflections and seven interceptions. And he wore it through his coverage struggles and bevy of injuries.
But with that jersey now belonging to nickelback Kyle Arrington, Chung’s wearing No. 23, looking for a fresh start in an old place.
So far, the 5’11”, 210-pound veteran has found just that. He’s been active on special teams and in the defensive secondary in practice. And, according to McCourty, his actions have helped guide the rookies learning next to him.
“I think just his work ethic, whether it’s in the weight room, being one of the stronger guys, whether it’s getting ready for practice, doing different things that a younger guy can see. ‘Hey, I can get in the hot tub, I’ll do this or that, just to make sure I’m ready, not just the stretch before practice and go,’” McCourty said. “As you get in this league, you get different aches and pains that you have to take care of on your own.”
When McCourty broke the league as a first-round cornerback in 2010, Chung, entering his second year at the time, was nearby. The two defensive backs went on to play three seasons together before the Chung fell out of favor and exited via free agency in March of 2013.
But he was back just over 365 days later. And as camp opened up July 24, he was back taking reps next to his old teammate.
“He’s a friend of mine,” McCourty said. “He was here the whole time I was here. He experienced something different for a year and now he’s back.”