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Bill Belichick explains how ‘no set role’ has led to a multiple one for Patriots safety Terrence Brooks

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Terrence Brooks has seen 214 snaps on New England’s defensive side of the ball.

New England Patriots v New York Jets Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

As Bill Belichick put it during his postgame press conference Sunday, filling in for Patrick Chung means “one thing in dime and another thing in nickel and another thing in regular.”

And oftentimes for the New England Patriots, it meant safety Terrence Brooks.

Brooks saw 48 percent of the defensive work against the Philadelphia Eagles. The March signing did so after Chung had been downgraded to out the day prior due to heel and chest injuries.

A Patriots-leading seven solo tackles arrived along with the 17-10 win at Lincoln Financial Field.

“He’s shown his versatility to play in the box, to play in the deep part of the field,” Belichick said, “to play man, to play zone, to play different spots in the zone depending on the formation and what coverage is called and so forth. He’s been a really good addition for us.”

Brooks would be credited with a pair of hits on quarterback Carson Wentz and a pair of breakups on passes intended for wideout Nelson Agholor and tight end Dallas Goedert. And when tasked with covering with Eagles Pro Bowler Zach Ertz, completions of one yard, nine yards, 11 yards and 12 yards were the result.

Ertz finished Sunday with nine catches for 94 yards in all against the New England defense.

But Brooks, who has cut his NFL teeth on special teams, continued to not look out of place within it.

“He played a lot [Sunday], and I thought he played well,” Belichick added during his weekly appearance on WEEI’s Ordway, Merloni & Fauria. “He tackled well. He was around the ball and did a good job in a lot of areas. He had some tough coverage responsibilities. He was very competitive in those.”

Brooks originally entered the league as a Baltimore Ravens third-round draft pick in 2014. A total of 234 defensive snaps followed for the Florida State product as a rookie.

This season in New England has marked his most since then.

SNAPS BY SEASON

  • 2014 – 11 games: 234 on defense, 120 on special teams
  • 2015 – 12 games: 65 on defense, 267 on special teams
  • 2016 – 11 games: 3 on defense, 165 on special teams
  • 2017 – 15 games: 92 on defense, 292 on special teams
  • 2018 – 16 games: 69 on defense, 392 on special teams
  • 2019 – 10 games: 214 on defense, 132 on special teams

Claimed by the Eagles in 2016, then traded to the New York Jets in 2017, Brooks signed a two-year, $3.25 million contract with the Patriots on the opening day of the 2019 league year.

Brooks now stands two tackles away from tying his career high. He intercepted his fourth career pass last month versus the Jets, marking his first since being named AFC Defensive Player of Week with them.

The résumé includes one start.

“When a new player comes to the team, there’s really no set role for anybody. Everybody earns their roles based on their performance,” Belichick said of Brooks. “So, we just don’t hand out playing time and hand out roles. When players play well enough to earn those opportunities, and then ultimately those responsibilities, then that’s because they’ve performed well and they’ve done it.”