BOSTON (CBS) – The New England Patriots secondary has been a revolving door this season, open seemingly to anyone that wants to go out and give it a shot.
First it was receiver Julien Edelman that was asked to fill in at corner. On Sunday it was special teams captain Matthew Slater to get the call on the defensive side, and he filled in nicely. Slater was third on the team with seven tackles and caused a third quarter fumble that led to a New England touchdown in the 31-24 win over the Colts.
Slater played well for his first NFL game as a defender, but he knows there is plenty of room for improvement.
“You’re never going to play a perfect football game, especially being out there for the first time. I’m just happy we got the win,” Slater said after the game. “I thank God for the opportunity and thank my teammates for getting me to the right page, lined up so I wasn’t busting plays and cutting guys loose out there.”
With Patrick Chung inactive for the fourth straight game with a foot injury, New England needed another fill-in. Slater said he found out earlier in the week he should be ready for a crack on defense, and thanked his teammates for helping him get prepared.
“It’s one of those things that I’ve known since I’ve been here; to be ready for whatever they ask me to do and they pushed me a little this week. The guys helped me. James (Ihedigbo), Kyle (Arrington), Devin (McCourty), Jerod (Mayo) and Nate Jones were all communicating with me to help out and I’m glad we came out with a win,” he said.
“Any time you move a receiver over (to the defense) there have to be adjustments. He was flying around, making plays and breaking up passes. That’s what we need,” said corner Antwaun Molden. “Matt is an aggressive guy and that is going to help us out in the long run.”
“We have that ‘Next Man Up’ attitude and those guys have done an excellent job filling in and being attentive in meetings and things like that. So when we come out on the field they do a good job,” said linebacker Jerod Mayo.
“I just thank God for the opportunity to be out there and help this team win a football game,” said Slater. “I am at a loss for words, I’m just so thankful. I’m glad we came out with a win and we will continue to move towards our goals for the rest of the season.”
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Drafted as a receiver out of UCLA, he knew coming into the league the Patriots would ask him to do a lot, on all sides of the ball.
“I was a ‘Jack of all Trades’ my rookie year,” said Slater. “I did a little bit of everything. My career has been about (taking) whatever anyone asks of me and then going out there to do it at the best of my ability. Playing hard and fast and doing whatever it takes to help this team have success.”
It may have come on defense, but Sunday was the most snaps Slater has played in his four-year NFL career.
“(I was in for) quite a few plays, so I’m a little sore,” he said. “That was a lot of football tonight. I’m going to sleep well.”