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Bill Belichick on Eagles linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill: ‘Certainly a guy we wanted to continue to work with’

New England selected Kamu Grugier-Hill in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL draft.

New York Jets v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Kamu Grugier-Hill’s time with the New England Patriots spanned the summer of 2016.

The rookie linebacker by way of Eastern Illinois recorded eight tackles and one pass deflection through that preseason sample size, playing 65 snaps on defense to go with 64 snaps on special teams.

But New England would waive Grugier-Hill at the NFL’s roster deadline that September.

The sixth-round draft choice became a Philadelphia Eagle as claims were filed the following afternoon.

“Kamu’s a very good special-teams player,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick told ESPN’s Mike Reiss on his conference call Tuesday. “He’s really a core guy for them – plays on all the units, runs well, smart kid, productive. And he’s played defensively, as well, sometimes in their substitute packages and occasionally in their regular calls.”

New England’s initial 53-man roster of 2016 included Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins, Elandon Roberts, Jonathan Freeny, Barkevious Mingo, Shea McClellin and Brandon King at linebacker.

Since then, Grugier-Hill has checked into 50 games over his four regular seasons with Philadelphia. His next game will arrive at Lincoln Financial Field against the organization he entered the league with, and went against in Super Bowl LII.

“He’s a good athlete, he runs well, is a good space player,” Belichick said of the 6-foot-2, 230-pound Grugier-Hill, who spent time at safety while in the Ohio Valley Conference. “I think he gives them a good element of speed and athleticism on the field that, in those situations, is good.”

Grugier-Hill missed Philadelphia’s initial three games this fall due to an MCL sprain. The second-year captain returned as a starter for the last three. Ten tackles have followed during the recent stretch, along with 70 percent of the defensive snaps and 57 percent of the work in the kicking game.

“Yeah, he’s certainly a guy that we wanted to continue to work with,” added Belichick. “At that point, we felt like there were other people ahead of him, but that he had a future in the league. We wanted to work with him, and we didn’t have the opportunity. But that’s what happens that time of year.”

Kickoff is set for 4:25 p.m. ET Sunday.