FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Receiver Matthew Slater injured his calf on the first day of training camp July 29 and didn't return to the practice field until a month later, which some felt put his roster spot in jeopardy.
Even Slater viewed it that way.
“The type of person I am, I always feel like it’s an uphill battle, since I got here," he said at the time. "Being hurt is something you can’t always control. ... I’m just happy to be out on the field now.”
That Slater was kept on the roster despite missing all of camp reflected how coaches viewed his special teams prowess, specifically in coverage. The third-year receiver rewarded the coaches' faith in him by leading the team in special teams tackles this season.
Tied with veteran linebacker Tracy White for the team lead entering the season finale, Slater set the tone against the Dolphins with a tackle on the opening kickoff. He finished with three solo special teams tackles in the game, clinching the top spot.
A look at the final special teams tackle charts:
WR Matthew Slater -- 21 tackles (15 solo, 6 assisted)
LB Tracy White -- 18 tackles (9 solo, 9 assisted)
CB Kyle Arrington -- 16 tackles (13 solo, 3 assisted)
CB Devin McCourty -- 12 tackles (11 solo, 1 assisted)
RB Sammy Morris -- 12 tackles (8 solo, 4 assisted)
OLB Rob Ninkovich -- 11 tackles (6 solo, 5 assisted)
LB Dane Fletcher -- 11 tackles (10 solo, 1 assisted)
RB Danny Woodhead -- 10 tackles (10 solo, 0 assisted)
S Patrick Chung -- 8 tackles (6 solo, 2 assisted)
S Jarrad Page -- 6 tackles (3 solo, 3 assisted)
S James Sanders -- 4 tackles (1 solo, 1 assisted)
S Sergio Brown -- 3 tackles (2 solo, 1 assisted)
RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis -- 3 tackles (2 solo, 1 assisted)
LB Gary Guyton -- 3 tackles (2 solo, 1 assisted)