New England Patriots cornerback Johnson Bademosi is a pretty serious guy. But he had to pause to smile when asked after beating the Atlanta Falcons 23-7 how much he’s enjoying increased opportunities on defense.

“A lot,” Bademosi said. “Yeah, I enjoy it a lot.”

Bademosi has started the Patriots’ last two games, playing a combined 128 defensive snaps. His previous season-high in defensive snaps came in 2016 with the Detroit Lions, when he was on the field for 283 snaps.

Bademosi didn’t know he was going to play such an extensive defensive role in Week 6 until last Saturday, when starting cornerback Stephon Gilmore hit the injury report with a concussion. Bademosi entered Week 7 knowing he would start if Gilmore didn’t pass through concussion protocol. Gilmore didn’t, and Bademosi shined, allowing just three catches on four targets for 31 yards with a pass breakup. And some of that time on the field was spent covering Falcons star receiver Julio Jones.

“It was a totally different week for him this week in that respect,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said Monday on a conference call. “But, J.B. does a good job. He prepares hard every week and he’s ready to go whatever his role is, whether it be on special teams or a unit on defense or last week it was a starting role on defense.

“But, he’s very professional. He’s smart and he takes his job seriously and really has a good work ethic and goes through all the steps and preparation that he can to prepare himself for the game, whatever that role happens to be. So, he’s done a good job of that for us.”

Bademosi, who primarily has played special teams throughout his six-year career won’t say it, but it seems he’s playing the best cornerback of his career. And it seems unlikely the Patriots knew they would be getting such a solid defensive contributor or that they would be forced to play him so heavily at cornerback when they acquired Bademosi for a 2019 sixth-round pick from the Detroit Lions prior to Week 1.

Thumbnail photo via Stew Milne/USA TODAY Sports Images