FOXBORO, Mass. — New England Patriots safety Patrick Chung will be a popular guy in the 10 days leading up to Super Bowl LII.
Chung has a connection with the Patriots’ Super Bowl LII opponents, since he played one season with the Philadelphia Eagles. He’s also going to be one of the Patriots’ most important defenders in the game.
The Eagles’ top offensive weapon is tight end Zach Ertz, who led the team with 74 receptions and 824 yards from scrimmage. His eight touchdowns was second only to wide receiver Alshon Jeffery’s nine.
Chung, who’s 5-foot-11, 207 pounds, likely will be tasked to cover the 6-foot-5, 249-pound tight end for most of the game. Chung allowed just 23 catches on 42 targets for 235 yards with two touchdowns, an interceptions and two pass breakups to tight ends this season, according to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald’s charting stats.
Chung has a lot of respect for both Eagles tight ends. Backup Trey Burton caught 23 passes for 248 yards with five touchdowns.
“He’s good, savvy, fast, good hands, good routes,” Chung said. “He can break tackles. He’s a good tight end. The other one’s good too. Burton’s good too. It’s not just (Ertz).”
So, how does Chung handle covering players that tower over him?
“Not thinking about how big they are,” Chung said laughing. “Just go out there and just play, man. When it’s one-on-one, it’s either you’re either gonna beat me or I’m gonna beat you. I’m just trying to do my best. If you beat me, then you earned it. I’m just gonna try to keep doing that, keep doing the same things I’ve been doing this year to help the team and hopefully we end up winning the Super Bowl.”
That approach worked well for Chung in 2015, when the Patriots limited Ertz to just two catches on four targets for 9 yards with a touchdown. Patriots safety Devin McCourty let up the score to Ertz in that game.
Chung wasn’t very open to talking about his 2013 season with the Eagles. He signed a three-year deal with Philly during the 2013 offseason but only lasted one season before being released and reuniting with the Patriots, who drafted him in 2009.
So, what did Chung learn in his year with the Eagles.
“That doesn’t matter,” Chung said. “I’m here now, and I wanted to be here. It’s all good.”