With the 77th overall selection in last year’s draft, the New England Patriots selected a player who would make an immediate impact on a defense that ended the 2019 season as the best in football: edge defender Chase Winovich, who finished his first season in the NFL with 24.5 quarterback disruptions — fourth most on the team — including 5.5 sacks. Needless to say that he set the bar high as he heads into Year Two with the Patriots.
In order to make the famous second-year jump and develop into a viable starting option following the free agency departures of fellow linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins, however, Winovich will first need to fully recover from an offseason procedure he reportedly underwent: according to Stan Grossfeld, who wrote a profile on him for the Boston Globe that is certainly worth reading, the 25-year-old had surgery to repair a hernia in February.
The issue did not appear to have much of an impact on Winovich during his rookie campaign: he was not listed on the injury report even once all year, and appeared in all 16 of the Patriots’ regular season games as well as their lone playoff contest — all while serving as a rotational pass rusher and core coverage player on special teams. In those roles, he was on the field for 293 of New England’s defensive snaps and 273 more in the kicking game.
Entering the 2020 season, Winovich’s usage is expected to expand quite a bit on the defensive side of the ball: with the aforementioned Van Noy and Collins no longer in the fold, Winovich is projected to serve as a core member of the team’s rotation along the defensive edge together with John Simon as well as second-round rookie (and fellow Michigan product) Josh Uche and offseason acquisition Brandon Copeland.
In order to be up to that task and get back to speed quickly, Winovich is reportedly doing “yoga, weights, canoeing, and multiple other exercises to keep in shape” following the rehabilitation process from his surgery. His offseason routine also included working out with another second-year player, who is expected to see his role grow significantly heading into the new year: quarterback Jarrett Stidham who was drafted one round after Winovich last year.
“I think he’s awesome. And he’s a great quarterback. He’s very consistent. He’s always got the same even-keel kind of attitude. I have a blast working out with him,” the defender said about his time spent with Stidham, the front-runner to take over the starting role following Tom Brady’s free agency departure.