Chase Winovich spent his college days at the University of Michigan, 30 miles outside of Detroit. It was therefore little surprising to see plenty of Winovich’s friends and family in attendance for the New England Patriots’ joint practices with the Detroit Lions and the two teams’ subsequent preseason meeting. And the rookie defender made sure to put on a show for those that came to watch this week’s events.
Not only did the 24-year-old produce his best week of practice to date and was one of the most active players on the Patriots’ entire roster, he followed it up with a standout performance during Thursday’s game: playing 24 of a possible 45 snaps, Winovich finished the contest with three tackles (one of which for loss) as well as three-and-a-half quarterback disruptions — more than any other player on the world champions’ defense.
Winovich, who had one-and-a-half sacks and two additional hurries, quickly deflected any praise after his first-ever NFL game, though: during his postgame press conference, the third-round draft pick made sure to credit both his teammates and his coaching for putting him in a position to be successful. “You saw me make the play, maybe on a couple occasions today, but really, there’s so many guys up front,” he said.
“Nick [Thurman], David [Parry], Byron [Cowart], Trent [Harris] — really just all the linebackers making the calls: Terez [Hall], Christian [Sam]... I could go on and on. There are so many intricacies during the game itself, just making adjustments with coach [DeMarcus] Covington and coach Cam [Achord],coach [Jerod] Mayo... I could name everybody by name,” said Winovich following the Patriots’ 31-3 blowout win.
“Just everything that goes in there and then it goes back to all the work that we put in — staying extra at times going over stuff and working with Willie McGinest on our technique. It felt good to have it all come together,” continued Winovich. “I just went out there, kind of had a game plan for how I wanted to attack things. Fortunately, it went my way. Like I said, thanks to my teammates setting everything up.”
Winovich’s preseason debut certainly was an encouraging start to this NFL career — and one the Patriots have to feel good about even though the rookie went primarily against the Lions’ second and third string offense. Nevertheless, he did his job and stepped up. It would therefore not be a surprise to see the coaching staff trust him with increased responsibilities during next week’s meeting with the Tennessee Titans.