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Patriots’ Justin Bethel reflects on first season in special tandem with Matthew Slater

Justin Bethel, a two-time All-Pro on special teams, arrived in New England last fall.

New England Patriots v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images

The NFC counterpart to Matthew Slater found himself in the AFC last season.

And after a compensatory-related release from the Baltimore Ravens in October, Justin Bethel found himself in the same kicking game.

The pair of gunners would combine for 536 snaps on special teams for the New England Patriots. Both finished the campaign on the ball and with 11 solo tackles apiece.

Bethel discussed the partnership Tuesday on NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football.”

“I think it’s been great,” Bethel said. “When I got there, it was funny because we both were always like, ‘Hey, man, what do you think the chances are that we’d be on the same team?’ I was in the NFC. He was in the AFC. And then, even when I was in Baltimore, it was like, ‘OK, now we’re on the same side. Now I’m kind of competing with him.’”

Bethel, who turned 30 this June, resided on three Pro Bowl rosters while a member of the Arizona Cardinals. And in 2013 and 2015, the defensive back out of Presbyterian earned first-team All-Pro selections.

A stop with the Atlanta Falcons followed before Bethel made his way to Baltimore.

As one career on the perimeter overlapped with another in New England, Slater chased down his eighth Pro Bowl and fifth first-team All-Pro selection this past campaign. The UCLA product did so at age 34 and having served as a captain since 2011.

“But now we’re on the same team,” added Bethel. “So, at this point, it’s kind of like we just got to be a great duo. During practice we talk a lot. We get to spend a lot of time working with each other, pick things up from each other, so it’s great. I’m excited to get a full year in playing with him.”

The Patriots signed Slater to a two-year extension as free agency neared in March, while Bethel remains under contract through 2020.