Where former New England Patriots assistant coaches go, ex-Patriots players tend to follow.
That’s certainly been the case in Detroit, where Patriots defensive coordinator-turned-Lions head coach Matt Patricia has assembled a roster that includes nearly a dozen players who have passed through New England at one point or another.
With the Patriots in the Motor City this week for three joint practices with Patricia’s squad ahead of Thursday’s preseason opener, here’s a quick rundown of the familiar faces they’ll see:
Wide receiver Danny Amendola
Beloved in New England for his clutch plays and postseason heroics, Amendola linked back up with Patricia after spending last season with the Miami Dolphins. His 59 catches for 575 yards led all Dolphins receivers in 2018, and the 33-year-old should have a significant role in the Lions’ offense this season.
According to reports, Amendola has been Detroit’s first-team slot receiver since training camp began, running alongside starting perimeter wideouts Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay.
?You?ve got to love Danny Amendola,? Patricia told reporters, via the Lions’ official website. ?You?ve got to love everything he brings, every single day. He?s probably one of the most intense people you?re going to talk about. When you?re passionate about the game of football — like we all are and like he is — passion breeds passion.”
Offensive lineman Luke Bowanko
Bowanko was in camp with the Patriots last spring and summer but was released on cutdown day.
Wide receiver Chris Lacy
You probably don’t remember the Chris Lacy era in New England. It lasted exactly one week. The Patriots signed Lacy as an undrafted free agent after the 2018 draft and released him seven days later.
Defensive end Trey Flowers
Flowers — the Patriots’ top pass rusher for the past three years and the only major defensive piece they lost this offseason — left in free agency to sign a five-year, $90 million contract with the Lions. It would be great to see how the Patriots’ various left tackle candidates fare against an edge rusher as talented as Flowers, but it’s unclear whether the 25-year-old even will take the field during these joint sessions. He’s currently on the physically unable to perform list as he recovers from offseason shoulder surgery.
Cornerback Justin Coleman
Coleman was an afterthought in the Patriots’ secondary during his two-year stint in Foxboro, which ended when New England shipped him to Seattle for a seventh-round pick at the start of the 2017 campaign. Since then, he’s established himself as one of the NFL’s best slot corners and has been compensated as such — the four-year, $36 million deal he signed with Detroit this spring made him the league’s highest-paid nickel back at the time.
Defensive end Eric Lee
Lee saw a lot of playing time down the stretch in 2017 as the Patriots patched together a defense for their run to Super Bowl LII. He impressed early (one interception, 2 1/2 sacks over his first two appearances) but fizzled late and wound up released after an unremarkable 2018 preseason.
Defensive tackle Darius Kilgo
Kilgo spent the tail end of 2017 on the Patriots’ practice squad and was on New England’s 90-man roster last summer before being cut.
Safety Tavon Wilson
A second-round pick of the Patriots in 2012, Wilson played four seasons in New England and won a Super Bowl in 2014. He enjoyed a strong debut in Detroit (14 starts, 89 tackles, two interceptions in 2016) but played only 30 percent of defensive snaps in 2018.
Cornerback Rashaan Melvin
Melvin had a cup of coffee with the Patriots in 2015, appearing in eight games. The 29-year-old journeyman reportedly is in the mix for the Lions’ second starting cornerback spot opposite Pro Bowler Darius Slay.
Defensive tackle John Atkins
Atkins signed with the Patriots as an undrafted rookie last spring and was cut out of training camp. Patricia quickly scooped him up, and the Georgia product split last season between Detroit’s practice squad and active roster.
Linebacker Trevor Bates
One of just two University of Maine products currently active in the NFL, Bates spent the second half of the 2016 season on the Patriots’ practice squad.
Head coach Matt Patricia
Patricia spent 14 seasons on Bill Belichick’s coaching staff — including six as his defensive coordinator — before leaving to take over the Lions last offseason. After back-to-back nine-win seasons, Detroit dropped to 6-10 in Patricia’s first year at the helm.
General manager Bob Quinn
Quinn, the Lions’ GM since 2016, previously spent 15 seasons in the Patriots’ front office, climbing the ladder from player personnel assistant to director of pro scouting.
Defensive assistant Steve Gregory
Gregory played safety for the Patriots in 2012 and 2013. He started 23 games over those two seasons and probably is best remembered as the guy who scored off the Butt Fumble.
Football performance coordinator Harold Nash Jr.
Nash served as the Patriots head strength and conditioning coach before being replaced by Moses Cabrera in 2016. He spent 11 seasons in New England.