FOXBORO, Mass. — Logan Ryan enjoyed from a bit of deja vu on Friday night.
Two days after intercepting Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman and returning the pass for a touchdown during one of the Patriots’ recent joint practices, Ryan managed to do the very same thing — only this time under the bright lights at Gillette Stadium.
The rookie cornerback was forced into extended playing time once again in Week 2 of the preseason, playing from almost beginning to end of the Patriots’ 25-21 win over the Bucs. Just one week earlier, he played a team-high 82 snaps against the Eagles, so it appears to be budding trend. And Ryan is making the most of his extended opportunities.
On Friday night, Ryan momentarily flashed back to his interception of Freeman as he broke on a pass from rookie quarterback Mike Glennon, picking the ball clear out of the air and returning it 53 yards all the way back to the comforts of his own end zone. The play marked a few firsts in Ryan’s career. including (albeit in preseason) his first interception and touchdown, both of which were thrilling for him, but more so just a testament to his dedication in practice.
“It felt good,” Ryan said with a smile after the game. “The first one is always the hardest one to get. I’m glad that I got it out the way and that’s something, I did that during the week in practice and Bill [Belichick] always talks about do it in practice and you’ll do it during the game.”
The moment was a special one for Ryan, as he made his first notable play in a Patriots uniform, but it was one that sort of flew by for the rookie as he dashed off to the end zone without ever giving any immediate thought to the moment.
“I just wanted to get there as quick as possible,” Ryan said laughing. “I couldn’t even tell you what was running through my head. I just knew it was a big play and I wanted to make it. You always want to score on defense.”
Ryan hasn’t had the smoothest of training camps, finding trouble keeping contain over top and struggling to look back and locate the ball in coverage on occasion. Those issues still cropped up now and again on Friday, but he was much more sound overall and left a lasting impact with the interception. And he attributes all that success to staying focused in practice.
“I think so,” he said. “I think if you get it done in practice — I think our defense played great all week, I think our team played great all week, guys made plays — and I got the opportunity during the game and I made it,”
As for how Friday’s impressive performance will influence him going forward, Ryan knows that he, and the team, was far from perfect and that there is a lot of work still to be done.
“I think as a team, 2-0, a win always feels better than a loss,” Ryan said. “There was a lot of mistakes made in that second half in that game that we need to clean up before we get heading out next week.”
Ryan knows that he’ll likely fall back into that fifth cornerback role when Alfonzo Dennard and Ras-I Dowling return from their respective injuries, which should be sooner than later. But he’s embracing his chances for the time being and continues to make the most of his opportunity.