As noted by Mike Reiss in his overview of the defensive snaps played in Sunday night's game against the 49ers, Patriots safety Patrick Chung took over for Steve Gregory in the team's base defense following a third quarter catch by Michael Crabtree. The substitution was not injury-related, according to the team, and could have been tied into what Chung brings to the defense when on the field.
Head coach Bill Belichick shared some praise for Chung on Monday, and on Tuesday defensive coordinator Matt Patricia chimed in with his thoughts on Chung as well.
"Patrick has done a great job for us in many different areas, whether it’s his coverage ability or his ability to tackle or to adapt in different situations," he said. "He certainly has some good experience, played a lot of football for us and has that side to bring to the game also. It’s a different array of things that he can do that help us in different situations that allows us to be a little bit more multiple in different packages."
We asked Patricia about what differences from each other, if any, Chung and Gregory present when on the field that might lead the team to play one over the other in certain situations.
"Well, I think all of our players, certainly, that are active for the game are ready to go at any time and we will try to get them in there at all different times of the game, whether it’s a particular package or to keep them fresh and active," he replied. "Certainly both are productive players for us and both do a great job on the back end. It’s not really anything different for us to rotate people in and give them a chance, an opportunity to go play in the game and hopefully try to help us win.
Chung, a free agent following this season, has missed four games in 2012 due to a shoulder injury that continues to limit him in practice (he's also dealt with hamstring issues). He has 34 tackles and two passes defensed thus far, and it will be interesting to see if he absorbs a more prominent defensive role in the final two weeks of the regular season.