Just hours before Thursday’s preseason game against the Carolina Panthers, news broke that New England Patriots safety Patrick Chung was indicted on a drug charge in New Hampshire for the alleged possession of cocaine. An indictment is of course no determination of guilt, but it creates considerable room for speculation as well as a major topic to discuss considering Chung’s role as one of the leaders on the Patriots defense.
The team itself, however, was not in a mood to talk about the issue following its 10-3 win over the Panthers. Head coach Bill Belichick set the tone with his postgame press conference, as he dodged both questions about the starting strong safety: “Pat hasn’t played the whole preseason,” he said about Chung’s inactivity yesterday followed by a general answer later: “Yeah, I think we released a statement on that.”
Belichick’s team followed suit. Devin McCourty did not want to talk about the matter, as did defensive lineman Michael Bennett. Two of Chung’s fellow safeties did touch on it though, albeit rather briefly. “Obviously, you know, we can’t really talk too much because it’s an ongoing investigation. But I mean, Pat knows everyone in here loves him,” veteran defensive back Duron Harmon told MassLive’s Andrew Callahan.
“We love the energy he brings every single day. He’s a leader. He’s a captain. Whatever he’s going through, we know he’s going to get through because we’re going to help him get through it,” continued the 28-year old, who has been Chung’s teammate for the last five years. ”And at the end of the day, that’s our guy. That’s our captain, and we love him. And we’re just hoping the best for him.”
First-year Patriot Terrence Brooks addressed the news as well, but he also did not go into too much detail and instead focused on his own approach: “Praying for the best for him. I know I’m praying for him, whatever’s going on. I know everything will work out itself. Just gotta keep moving,” Brooks said (via NBC Sports). “When I heard the news I just prayed for him and that’s all we can do right now just let the rest take care of itself.”
Chung, of course, entered 2019 not just with a new contract extension in hand but also with considerable promise as one of the elder statesmen on a defense considered to be among the NFL’s most talented. How his season will now look like — also in light of the shoulder injury that kept him a limited participant for much of training camp — remains to be seen, but Chung can count on one thing: he does have the support of his teammates.