Josh Uche is the new AFC Defensive Player of the Week. The third-year linebacker was awarded the honor after registering three sacks in the New England Patriots’ win over the Arizona Cardinals on Monday Night Football.
Uche, 24, is in the middle of a breakout campaign. A second-round selection out of Michigan in 2020, he struggled with injuries over the first two-and-a-half years of his professional career. As a result, his production was limited to just four sacks in 27 total games between his rookie campaign and midway through the current season.
In Week 8 against the New York Jets, however, he started to flip a switch and become one of the most disruptive players in all of football. In the six games since, Uche registered a league-high 10 sacks — including the aforementioned three versus Arizona.
“I’ve been through a lot of adversity and just leaning back on my faith, my family, my teammates, my girl, my parents — everybody. Just leaning back on them and them just helping me stay up,” Uche said after the game.
He also praised his teammates for helping him stay on track despite the hardships he was experiencing earlier in his career.
“[Matthew] Judon, he has been a blessing in my life. That’s big bro, and I don’t know where I’d be without him and the rest of the guys,” Uche said. “[Deatrich Wise Jr.] and my boy Anfernee [Jennings], my lockermate. Those guys, we just feed off of each other. They’re just a great group of guys in the locker room.”
Together with fellow linebacker Matthew Judon, who won the award after Week 5, Uche is now the only Patriots defender recognized as the AFC’s Defensive Player of the Week. Additionally, kicker Nick Folk (Week 8) and punt returner Marcus Jones (Week 11) have earned the award for special teams players.