By Gregory Hunt

During the era of head coach Bill Belichick (2000-present), a big factor in keeping the New England Patriots competitive has been Belichick’s ability to identify talented players seemly unwanted by other NFL teams. His newest acquisition, former Chicago Bears linebacker Jonathan Bostic, seems poised to become a major contributor to the team, while an earlier acquisition, former Philadelphia Eagles running back Dion Lewis, is already having an impact.

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Bostic joins New England’s linebacking corps

Thanks to an early bye week, the New England Patriots aren’t scheduled to play another game until they meet the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on October 11. This is giving extra preparation time to the team’s newest player, Jonathan Bostic, who joined the Patriots on Tuesday as part of a trade with the Chicago Bears. Bostic, who was originally selected by the Bears in the 2nd round of the 2013 NFL Draft, came to New England in exchange for a 6th-round pick in next year’s draft.

“Jonathan has been a productive player, was very productive in college, started a bunch of games for the Bears,” Belichick told the media on Wednesday. “He’s played both inside and outside in the 4-3, athletic, runs well, smart, can play in the kicking game. I think he can potentially give us depth on all four downs.”

Although Bostic gave the Bears two productive seasons (he led the team in tackles in 2014), he had difficulty fitting in with the 3-4 defense installed this year by new Chicago head coach John Fox. Bostic also dealt with back and ankle injuries this past summer, but he passed a physical administered by the Patriots this week in order to complete the trade.

Bostic, a product of the University of Florida, has been on Belichick’s radar for a while. Shortly before the 2013 draft, New England coaches scouted him at Florida and were quite impressed. New England nearly took him in the second round of that draft, but the Bears took him with the 50th pick. The Patriots ended up taking linebacker Jamie Collins with the 52nd pick.

Collins, Dont’a Hightower and Jerod Mayo are currently entrenched as New England’s starting linebackers, so despite Bostic’s talent, he may not see too many snaps on defense right away. However, he’s more than willing to contribute wherever he can, particularly on special teams.

“I’ve played special teams going all the way back to high school, so it won’t be anything new to me,” Bostic said Tuesday. “Trying to pick up everything on special teams and defense in a couple of days is definitely tough, so the bye week, it will definitely help out.”

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Lewis is a nice surprise at running back

One of the most surprising stories of New England’s 2015 season has been the performance of running back Dion Lewis, who is currently 1st on the team in rushing yards (146 yards, with two touchdowns) and 3rd on the team in pass receptions (15 catches for 179 yards). This is despite the fact that he hadn’t taken a snap since 2012, and he had been out of football altogether in 2014.

“We knew there was something there,” said Patriots running back coach Ivan Fears this week. “We had a feeling there was something there and we let it play out. He took advantage of preseason games and practice sessions and he’s done a good job. Like all the guys, he’s niched out a little role for himself.”

Lewis, who played his college ball at the University of Pittsburgh, is also getting along well with fellow Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount. The two of them made a fierce combination in New England’s Week Three blowout of the Jacksonville Jaguars, and the pair enjoy each other’s company off the playing field, too.

“He’s a great guy, great player,” Lewis said about Blount. “He helped me a lot learning the offense, as well as all the other running backs. Definitely a tight group in the running back room and we’re just trying to do great things.”

Fears compares Lewis to Kevin Faulk, a similarly-sized running back (both are 5-foot-8) who played 13 seasons with the Patriots. Like Lewis, Faulk was a running and pass-catching threat that was also adept at picking up blitzes despite his size.

“He’s got exceptional quickness and he’s got the vision to go with it,” Fears said. “He’s got the Kevin Faulk-type of vision. He sees a lot, but he can make things happen because of his feet and his ability to change directions.”

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Gregory Hunt is a Boston native and a life-long fan of the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics. He’s also particularly fond of lacrosse, IndyCar racing and women’s college basketball. He currently works for Examiner.com where he serves as the Senior Manager of Content and Media Access. He also writes for Examiner.com as the New England Patriots Examiner. His work can be found on Examiner.com.