New England Patriots: Quick takes on the pre-season defense

Devin McCourty #32 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Devin McCourty #32 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
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New England Patriots
Josh Uche #55 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /

The New England Patriots linebacking/edge crew

This is where things get really interesting for the Patriots. They get star Dont’a Hightower back after he opted out last season, and re-signed excellent former Patriots linebacker Kyle Van Noy away from the Dolphins.

Van Noy was summarily dismissed from Miami in a not-so-amicable parting of the ways. He’s a man on a mission, and his six sacks would have led New England last year.

That’s two upgrades from last season. In addition, in perhaps the most earth-shattering move of the entire off-season (absent maybe the Jones pick), they signed Matt Judon.

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Judon is a star who may not have received the bright lights and attention that he was due while he was with the Baltimore Ravens. Yet, Judon was a Pro-Bowler the past two seasons, that notwithstanding.

So far, even with his big-time contract, he’s been as advertised and more. He’s been a one-man wrecking crew when he played in the pre-season, which was sparingly.

Yet, Judon has already made his presence felt to such an extent that he is being touted as both a potential Defensive Player of the Year candidate and an All-Pro. Those are high compliments, indeed.

The Patriots also have second-year player Josh Uche available this season and he’s looking to have that proverbial Bill Belichick second-year breakout. And he just may.

Uche has shined in pre-season giving the Patriots yet another edge player to rush the quarterback, a skill that they were sorely lacking last season.

And to add just another positive, they drafted Ronnie Perkins of Oklahoma in the third round and he also has the makings of a solid player.

Inside, Ja’Whaun Bentley returns and, along with the versatile Hightower and Van Noy, he will cover that position nicely.

To add a little more frosting on the cake, Harvey Langi, a former Patriots draft pick is back after two years with the Jets (60 tackles last season) and playing with a vengeance.

The New England Patriots have to find a spot for this emerging talent. He’s been ferocious in the pre-season and looks like a keeper. Now onto the defensive backfield.