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Why playing ‘hard, fast and smart’ makes Patrick Chung captain material

09.06.11 at 12:58 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Whether or not he is voted a captain by his teammates this week, Patrick Chung already carries himself like a leader on the Patriots.

He speaks like one but more importantly, he acts like one.

Of course, the most obvious example of this was following one of the more painful losses in recent memory. He was the middle “protection” man on the punt team who audibled to an ill-fated fake punt late in the first half of the Patriots playoff loss to the Jets last January.

He was the one who stepped up immediately after the game and took full blame and responsibility.

Now, with James Sanders and Brandon Meriweather gone from the Patriots secondary, he and Leigh Bodden are the elder statesmen of secondary. But more importantly, he has become someone other safeties are looking toward for on-field guidance and off-field instruction.

At 24, he is already a cornerstone of the defense, along with Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo and Devin McCourty. Would it be unusual for Chung to join Wilfork and Mayo as a captain at such a young age?

Consider that last year, Mayo was also 24 when he ascended to the role of captain as one of the young, talented and composed players of the Patriots defense.

He’s already carrying the torch, speaking like a leader. On Monday, he was asked about the departure of Meriweather, a fellow safety who helped bring him along when he was drafted in 2009. What are his thoughts on Meriweather’s departure?

“That’s not a question for me,” he responded. “The guys we have here, we’re going to work with the guys we have here, period. Now we know who we’re going to be playing with. This is our family now. That’s a decision for them. They keep the guys they want here and you play with the guys you’ve got. That’s not my say to talk about.”

What about taking on the role of a leader with Meriweather and Sanders both gone?

“I’m not going to answer that,” Chung said. “I’m here to play football, play hard, play fast and do it smart,” he said. Like I always say, you can’t really think about that stuff, period. I’m here to play, so is everybody else, and we’re going to play, period. Whoever is leader out there, regardless. We all have to play hard, fast.”

While not offering up answers on Meriweather and Sanders, Chung does like what he sees from Josh Barrett, a big, young safety, who he’s likely to see time with in the secondary, along with Sergio Brown and James Ihedigbo.

“We’ll see,” Chung said. “He’s good. He’s a big guy, physical but ask him, ask coach. As the season goes along, people are going to develop more. I can look at him, he can look me. It doesn’t matter who’s out there, Sergio, Ross [Ventrone], James, we’re going to have to play, regardless of who’s out there.

“I’m very happy. Everybody’s happy to be here. Now, we have to work with the guys with have.”

Chung wouldn’t spill the beans on anything on Monday, except for how much he’s looking forward to “GO” time next Monday in Miami.

“Now, it’s real time, real games so now they all count,” he said. “We have to bring our “A” game every single game for all four quarters. So, now it’s time to go.

“It’s time to go. Now, we have to execute some things and get better. I’m happy. I would only hope everybody is happy. You made the team, it’s time to go, it’s time to play football. It’s time to go.”

Spoken like a future captain of the Patriots.

Read More: Brandon Meriweather, James Inhedigbo, James Sanders, Josh Barrett
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