The New England Patriots ruled out one cornerback on last Friday’s injury report. And by Saturday, it was learned that another wouldn’t be making the trip to East Rutherford, either.
Eric Rowe’s groin ailment and Stephon Gilmore’s previously unknown concussion left the Patriots with three healthy corners heading into Sunday’s encounter with the New York Jets: third-year starter Malcolm Butler, 2016 undrafted free agent Jonathan Jones, and a Sept. 2 trade acquisition who had yet to see the field outside of special teams this season.
Bademosi, who went four years without a start for the Cleveland Browns before logging three with the Detroit Lions last campaign, had cut his teeth as a gunner since entering the league in 2012. The 27-year-old led Cleveland in special-teams stops in 2015, and largely for that expertise, he garnered a two-year, $4.5 million contract with nearly $3 million guaranteed from Detroit in March of 2016.
Bademosi maintained it upon arriving in Foxborough last month in exchange for a sixth-round pick.
The 6-foot, 206-pound Stanford product accrued 100 snaps in the kicking game through the Patriots’ first five games, and tracked down returners to make four tackles. But given the circumstances leading up to this past Sunday at MetLife Stadium, Bademosi ultimately found himself tracking down wideouts as well.
And Bademosi did not lose track of them, even if he didn’t likely have much notice that he’d be covering them.
“I’m not going to comment on that,” Bademosi said Sunday evening on the Xbox One postgame show when asked about when he learned of the expanded role. “But our coaches do a great job of preparing us to play, so I was ready.”
Bademosi drew the start across from Butler in Gilmore’s absence while Jones took the nickel. And by the end of what was a 24-17 win, No. 29 had stayed there in the secondary for 96 percent of New England’s defensive snaps.
“Bademosi did a great job for us,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said Monday on WEEI’s Dale & Holley with Rich Keefe. “He played  plays on defense, 14 in the kicking game, and we really didn’t know that he was going to play until Saturday – defensively.”
Bademosi, who ranked fourth among Lions cornerbacks in snaps last season and broke up five passes to go with an interception, tied Butler for the second-most reps on defense Sunday. With the unexpected sample size, he recorded five total tackles and was targeted a penalty-excluding three times by Jets quarterback Josh McCown.
Not bad considering McCown finished 31-of-47 for 354 yards through the air with two touchdowns and a pair of interceptions. Not bad considering New England didn’t have to thrust safeties Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung and Duron Harmon into a different capacity.
On third-and-5 early in the second quarter, Bademosi conceded 16 yards on a slot crosser to ex-Seattle Seahawk Jermaine Kearse. Ten minutes later on first-and-10, Kearse picked up nine more yards against a well-cushioned look from Bademosi, who was challenged again with 56 seconds to go before intermission on a comeback that gained nine before being nullified.
Bademosi’s final pass given up came versus a curl from running back Travaris Cadet on second-and-9 with 10 minutes remaining in the third quarter. It netted seven yards.
“To have a big role like that, it says a lot for his preparation, and he came through for us,” Belichick added. “I thought he played well, tackled well and did a great job. He stepped in, really did a great job.”
Bademosi’s place in New England’s third phase figures to stand as is moving forward. But he didn’t look out of place beyond kickoffs and punts versus New York.
He looked like a corner.