BOSTON (CBS) — We have finally reached Week 1 of the 2020 NFL season, which is the beginning of a new era for the New England Patriots. In addition to all the unknown that will go with teams playing football during a pandemic, the Patriots are going through quite the change in personnel with Cam Newton taking over for the departed Tom Brady.
No one really knows what to expect in 2020, from both a Patriots standpoint and a league standpoint, but we’re going to take a crack at it anyways. The WBZ-TV and CBS Boston Sports team will be answering a handful of questions regarding the Patriots as we count down to kickoff Sunday afternoon against the Miami Dolphins.
In this installment, the team picks a player who will break out on the defensive side of the ball.
Steve Burton, WBZ-TV Sports
Dan Roche, WBZ-TV Sports
Let’s go out on a limb and choose Derek Rivers here. Entering his fourth season, he’s only been able to take the field for six of 48 regular season games, as he’s lost two of his three seasons due to injuries. He’s worked his tail off to give this another go. He seems like a good kid with a high motor. Easy to root for this story and would love to see it happen.
Levan Reid, WBZ-TV Sports
The break out player (or players) that have to get the job done on defense are J.C. Jackson and John Simon. Jackson is already getting a rep as a tough, shutdown corner. He has great closing speed and he needs to keep doing that.
Simon needs to be in that Rob Ninkovich/Kyle Van Noy role. Be the guy to make the big play on defense, when the Pats need a swing in the game.
Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
I’m thinking it’s a big year for Chase Winovich. He shined with some impact plays last year, but in a limited role. With Kyle Van Noy now gone, perhaps the Michigan Man is in the perfect spot to step up and became a mainstay on the edge.
Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
The Patriots have a whole new linebacking corps after Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins left via free agency and Dont’a Hightower opted out of the season. That puts a lot on third-year linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley, who is now the leader of the group. Bentley appeared in all 16 games last season but played just over 25 percent of New England’s defensive snaps. His workload is going to increase substantially this season, and hopefully so will his production.
You can watch the Patriots kick off their 2020 season Sunday on WBZ-TV — the home of the New England Patriots! Coverage begins Friday night at 7 p.m. with Patriots All Access and kicks off Sunday at 11:30 a.m. with Patriots GameDay. The Patriots and the Dolphins square off at 1 p.m., and stick to WBZ-TV after the game for Cam Newton’s first postgame press conference on Patriots 5th Quarter!