FOXBORO, Mass. — New England Patriots 2015 first-round pick Malcom Brown had been making big plays in recent weeks, so it was head-scratching that he didn’t get into Saturday’s 41-3 win over the New York Jets until the fourth quarter.

Belichick said Saturday it was a coaching decision to bench Brown, who has started 13 of 15 games this season with 47 tackles, three sacks, a safety and forced fumble. Belichick expounded on Brown’s performance Tuesday in a conference call with the media when asked about the second-year pro and rookie defensive tackle Vincent Valentine.

“Well, I think Vince is improving,” Belichick said. “He’s still got a ways to go. There are a lot of things he is working on, he’s gotten better at, but it’s a different game in there. Especially for us where we play guys like him in different spots. Sometimes he’s on the center, sometimes he’s in the gap, sometimes he’s on the guard, sometimes he’s in a three-technique. He’s making progress. He’s coming along.

“Malcom’s had some good moments. We’re just looking really for more consistency there. (Alan) Branch has been by far our most consistent defensive tackle. The other guys can shoot to get up to his level.”

Brown and Valentine both are 22 years old, while Branch is 31, so it might be a matter of gaining experience before reaching the veteran’s consistency. Branch has started all 15 games and has 47 tackles with 1.5 sacks, two passes defended and a forced fumble. Valentine has started one of 12 games and has 17 tackles and one sack in a mostly rotational role.

Thumbnail photo via Scott R. Galvin/USA TODAY Sports Images