The New England Patriots safety room was perhaps the biggest strength of the roster entering the 2022 season. One of those pieces is just starting to heat up.
After slowly ramping up throughout the summer after rupturing his ACL last season, safety Jabrill Peppers — who the team signed this past offseason to a one-year deal — has showed his value in a limited role.
Through two games, Peppers has aligned all over the field for the Patriots. According to Pro Football Focus, the versatile defensive back has lined up in the box (21 snaps), in the slot (five), as a deep safety (four), on the edge (three) and as a wide cornerback (two). His versatility was one of his calling cards, as well as his energy which was often on display on the practice fields throughout the summer.
“He fits in really well,” linebackers coach and defensive play-caller Steve Belichick told reporters on Tuesday via Zoom. “He was coming back from the knee injury, so he was just a little behind those guys getting out on to the field. Dugg, AP, Dev — obviously, those guys have played together for a couple years, so he’s integrated really well with those guys. I think those help him just in terms of their experience and kind of helping him get to the right spots.
“But it’s hard to not notice his energy, his excitement, his love for football, how passionate he is out there on the field.”
His energy was apparent on a pair of back-to-back plays in the third-quarter. With Pittsburgh in New England territory, Peppers made a strong pair of open field tackles forcing the Steelers’ offense to settle for a field goal. The third-down stop prompted an emphatic fist pump from the 26-year-old.
“I’m really happy to have him on the team and have him out there, and I think it’s only going to get better going forward if he stays on the trajectory he’s on,” Belichick said. “It’s been really good, and I was happy to see him out there making some plays.”
New England’s safety depth has been tested right away, as Adrian Phillips and Kyle Dugger each left one of the Patriots first two games early due to injury. Peppers has played just around 30 percent of the defensive snaps, but has impressed when filling in and could be headed towards a larger role as he continues to get back to full-speed himself.
“He’s an electric player,” Belichick added. “Really happy to have him on our team.”