New England Patriots: 3 players primed for breakout seasons

Damien Harris #37 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)
Damien Harris #37 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images) /
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New England Patriots
Kyle Dugger #35 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

New England Patriots Breakout Candidate No. 2: Kyle Dugger

While Uche didn’t see much of the field during his rookie season, the same cannot be said about Kyle Dugger. The young safety saw action early and often, and showed the potential to develop into a star safety for New England.

When Patrick Chung announced he was sitting out last season, it thrust Dugger into the spotlight. Even with Devin McCourty and Adrian Phillips in tow, Dugger was often on the field for long stretches of the game, and he held his own for the most part.

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Dugger is fantastic tackler, as he accrued 64 on the season despite not being an every down player. Towards the end of the season, it was almost expected that he would burst through the line untouched and blow up at least one play run by the opposing team.

Despite that, Dugger still has some areas of his game that can be improved upon. He was occasionally a liability in coverage, especially against tight ends. Dugger has a bigger frame for a safety, but he has to learn how to use that frame to cover opposing players better this season.

Dugger showed enough last season to turn Pats fans that were skeptical of drafting the former Division II star into believers. Dugger’s tackling abilities show he has great anticipation, and an overall solid feel for the game. Those are intangibles that oftentimes cannot be taught.

With Chung now officially out of the fold, Dugger’s responsibilities will most likely increase. Admittedly McCourty and Phillips are still around, but that shouldn’t stop Dugger from seeing the field. If Dugger can fine tune some of the lesser aspects of his game, he could be set to make a big leap in year two of his career.