New England Patriots: Ja’Whaun Bentley ready to step up

New England Patriots Ja'Whaun Bently (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
New England Patriots Ja'Whaun Bently (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

The New England Patriots will be without linebacker Dont’a Hightower but Ja’Whaun Bentley is ready to step up and be a leader.

In 2020, the New England Patriots defense will be under a lot of pressure.

This is in larger part due to the departure of Tom Brady. No longer can you depend on the offense to bail you out. The defense will be the side of the ball that wins games.

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New England did get some help with Cam Newton, but we don’t know what to expect from the QB in his first season with the Pats. If he reminds us why he won an MVP the defense will be able to relax, but what if Newton struggles to begin the season?

Then Dont‘a Hightower ended up opting out of the 2020 season. Being a pillar of the defense, this is a rather big blow.

But New England still has some great players on defense. Stephon Gilmore is the big name that sticks out, but also at linebacker they have a player who can help mitigate the loss of Hightower.

Bentley had a great start to his career. In his first game, he had seven total tackles. In his third game, he snagged his first interception. Sadly Bentley’s season was cut short due to an injury.

Then in 2019, Bentley didn’t get a lot of snaps. He was trapped under a strong group of linebackers that included Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, Elandon Roberts, and Jamie Collins. All of those guys will not be wearing a Patriots uniform in 2020 so Bentley is being gifted an amazing opportunity.

With Hightower out, it looks like Bentley will be one of the main guys on defense. He’s ready to be the guy that his fellow players turn to.

"“This wouldn’t be the first time I wore the green dot,” Bentley said Wednesday in a video conference, referring to the sticker that marks the on-field play-caller. “Obviously, that’s the head communicator. That’s the one who relays the calls to everybody. So if that’s the role that I have to take on — which is highly likely — we have to be able to adjust to that. Everybody has a role to play, and if that’s what mine will be, then I have to do that and try my best to do that very well.”"

It’s good to see that Bentley believes in himself. He is only 23 years old but he knows that he has what it takes to do everything New England asks of him.

Bentley isn’t the only one who thinks this. Teammate Matthew Slater had some high praise for the young linebacker.

"He reminds me a little bit of a guy that I got drafted with here,” special teams captain Matthew Slater said after Bentley started and played 51 defensive snaps in the Patriots’ 2018 season opener. “They wore the same number (No. 51), too. He’s a good kid. He’s really done a great job. “He’s really been a leader. His buy-in has been tremendous. His play on the field has been tremendous. He’s a player that players in this locker room really trust and have a lot of confidence in, so hopefully he’ll continue to grow and improve like the rest of us. I’m looking forward to seeing what the future has in store for him.”"

So 2020 could be a great season for Ja’Whaun Bentley. With more responsibility comes the chance to make bigger plays.

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Bentley’s teammates believe in him so Patriots fans should as well.