Count New England Patriots linebacker Josh Uche is among the many who feel more comfortable entering their second season in the National Football League.
Patriots teammate and fellow 2020 second-rounder Kyle Dugger expressed much of the same last week. Dugger, a second-year safety, called the difference between the 2020 pandemic-riddled season and this one “night and day.” He noted comfortability, urgency and communication were a few specific aspects he felt better about amid Patriots training camp.
Uche, who played nine games with one start last season, agrees. And Uche expressed how the opportunity to have a real offseason along with the fact he could build a routine which focused solely on football has played a big part.
“I feel like I’ve put in a lot of extra time in the offseason, getting into my playbook and just watching some old film, going over corrections on some mistakes I might have made last year, and just continuing to improve in my free time,” Uche said Monday, per the team. “Obviously, extra preparation has helped prepare me for camp. I have a steady foot, steady understanding of the foundation of the defense. I’d say it’s been a great transition.”
The 22-year-old Michigan product further explained how film study has been crucial in gaining comfort.
“Just watching film every day. You’ve just got to watch everybody, study everything, study formations, study tendencies, just understand what we’re trying to accomplish each week,” Uche said. “It’s kind of just studying. It’s a combination of different things. I’m the hardest critic on myself, so I’m always just looking at slight tweaks I could make to my game, whether it’s this technique, whether it’s this stance, or whatever. I’m just constantly on it. Even if it’s good, there’s always room to be better.”
Uche has earned the praise of teammates including veteran pass rusher Matt Judon. Judon, who arrives in New England after five seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, believes Uche is “going to be great.”
Uche appreciated the praise and expressed how being able to watch Patriots veterans — Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, Judon — has helped aid his development as well.