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Matthew Slater: Patriots have done a good job of ‘digging ourselves out of an early-season hole’

Related: Patriots’ rookie class continues to defy its critics with promising outing against Browns

New England Patriots v Cleveland Browns Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images

Matthew Slater has been in that position before.

Just like they have multiple times in the past as well, the New England Patriots also started their 2022 season rather slowly. Four weeks into the season, they found themselves at 1-3 and seemingly facing more questions than answers.

Back-to-back wins, however, have changed the narrative and allowed them to get back to .500. Slater, who is in his 15h season with the organization, is pleased by this recent development.

“I think we’ve done a good job of digging ourselves out of an early-season hole here,” the team captain told reporters on Monday. “We made some progress and we’re starting to see some results that we’ve been hoping for, and that’s showing up in the win column.”

The Patriots achieved those recent results while facing some adversity. Quarterback Mac Jones, for example, is among several starters missing time with injury; the sophomore QB went down with a high ankle sprain in Week 3. His backup, Brian Hoyer, suffered a concussion the following week, opening the door for fourth-round rookie Bailey Zappe to take over the most important spot on the field.

Zappe has played admirably since moving into the starting position, helping the Patriots beat the Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns to go 2-0 as a starter. What has also helped the team, though, was some impressive play by defense and special teams.

With all three phases making strides, the Patriots are starting to grow into the team they want to be. That is obviously a positive, but Slater also preached some caution.

“The thing we can’t do now is feel as though we’ve done something,” he said. “You look at our division, we’re still the last-placed team in our division. We need to continue not just to improve but to continue to try to go out and play winning football. We’re encouraged by the progress that we made, and we’re looking to build upon that.”