FOXBORO, Mass. — Find someone who loves you as much as Bill Belichick loves talking about Wally Pipp.

For the uninitiated, let’s do a brief history lesson.

In 2009, NFL Films provided a clip of the Patriots head coach speaking with Wes Welker after then-rookie Julian Edelman returned a punt for a touchdown during the preseason. Belichick was playfully telling Welker to guard against Edelman taking his job.

During the back-and-forth, Belichick invoked Pipp, whose headache on June 2, 1925, changed the course of baseball history. Pipp, an MVP candidate the prior season, wasn’t feeling well and asked out of the New York Yankees lineup. His replacement at first base: some 21-year-old named Lou Gehrig, who registered three hits and scored a run. Gehrig, whose famous consecutive games streak began the day prior, played in the next 2,128 games.

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That brings us to Wednesday morning, when Belichick was asked about fourth-year edge rusher Anfernee Jennings.

The 2020 third-round pick didn’t play much during his first three seasons but has seen an increased role in 2023. With Matthew Judon, Josh Uche and Keion White all dealing with injuries, Jennings has provided rock-solid play on the edge while seeing 63% of defensive snaps.

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“He’s had an opportunity with some of the injuries we’ve had at that position,” Belichick said during a news conference. “He’s had an opportunity to play a lot. He’s definitely stepped up. Sometimes that’s what this league’s about, is getting an opportunity, however that happens, and then taking advantage of it when you get it.

“Lou Gehrig, Wally Pip — you know?”

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Of course, Belichick wasn’t insinuating that Jennings could take Judon’s job. If Judon returns this season, he’ll slot back in as New England’s top edge rusher.

But Jennings’ consistency in the run game — his Pro Football Focus run defense grade ranks seventh among all edge rushers — should help him stay on the field in some capacity. Belichick loves defenders who set a good edge, and Jennings might be better at it than anyone on the Patriots.

In fact, if we were to bet right now, there’s a better of Jennings re-signing next spring than Uche.

Featured image via Eric Canha/USA TODAY Sports Anfernee Jennings