Despite spending his entire rookie season on the non-football injury list in 2021, Joshuah Bledsoe was still able to make an impact on his teammates.
“To me, Bled has been super impressive,” veteran Devin McCourty told reporters last year. “For a guy to come in here and maybe one week in, he got hurt and he’s been sitting on the sideline, really. Obviously training, conditioning, doing all that, but he couldn’t practice.
“And for me, it’s been impressive seeing him get on the field and how fast he’s played — executing, understanding techniques. That comes from you obviously (being) locked in in meetings, paying attention, going home, rewatching film. It’s hard for any player to not get any reps and go execute, but when you’re a rookie, you have zero basis, zero foundation of reps. I thought Bled has done a great job.”
Entering his second season, Bledsoe is now healthy and on the field - backing up the high praise from the veteran captain in the process.
Through the first four days of training camp, the former sixth-round pick out of Missouri has been a standout in the New England Patriots’ crowded safety group. He has often been around the ball, recording a handful of pass breakups and forcing several incompletions when covering tight ends such as Jonnu Smith and Devin Asiasi.
“I’m having a lot of fun out there. It feels good to be out there with my teammates,” Bledsoe told reporters after practice on Saturday. “You make plays that just build your confidence. But I try to take it play-by-play and just give it my all.”
Despite only practicing during the three-week injured reserve window last season, Bledsoe used his time in the Patriots’ facility wisely. He now appears to be reaping the benefits.
“Last year, I was locked in mentally, so it’s just carried over to the field, and I’m able to play fast,” he explained.
Entering camp, the Patriots safety room was highlighted as perhaps the team’s biggest strength. The deep and versatile group includes McCourty, Kyle Dugger, Adrian Phillips, and newcomer Jabrill Peppers, who still resides on the physically unable to perform list. Through one week of camp, it’s been Bledsoe however stealing the show.
“We are all versatile. We can all play whatever spot and make it hard on the quarterback,” Bledsoe said. “We line up in one position one time, and then another set comes by, and we switched it up.”
After his strong start, Bledsoe has received consistent run time with the Patriots’ ‘starting’ defensive unit the past two days of practice. He has shown the ability to cover tight ends, play zone in the flat, and occasionally appear as a deep safety. It’s a role similar to the ones Dugger and Phillips have held the past few seasons, as well as former Patriot Patrick Chung.
“I just watch their game and try to add a little bit to my game,” Bledsoe said, while also adding he’s watched “a little bit” of Chung’s old game film.
Despite watching some old Patriots’ game film, Bledsoe is not looking to get caught up in the past history of Patriots defensive backs wearing No. 24, instead looking to write his own story.
“I know of all the great players that have worn the number before me, but I’m just going out there playing my game,” Bledsoe said. “That’s going to speak for itself.”