Matthew Slater follows the lead of Julian Edelman as Patriots ‘get away with a win’
|12.04.11 at 8:44 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Matthew Slater and Julian Edelman are very different people but they share a lot on a football field. They are both two-way players who have cut their teeth on special teams. They have now played safety for the Patriots in the secondary.
And they happen to be roommates in their Foxboro home when not at Gillette Stadium.
So, naturally the two talk about playing defense after working in the offense as receivers and on special teams. And when Slater got the call this week from the coaching staff that he would be starting the game at safety, he knew right where to turn.
“Julian and I are roommates so we’ve talked a lot about that. It was kind of fun for the two of us to be doing the flip-flop thing together,” Slater said. “[We] are close friends and he’s supported me and I’ve supported him and hopefully, we can keep this thing going.”
Edelman and Slater are just the latest examples of just how much Bill Belichick expects from everyone on the roster.
“Around here we like football players who can do things to help this team win, and the coaches preach that, ‘the more you can do.’ and I’ve always just tried to take the mentality, ‘whatever they ask me do’ even if they ask me to play right tackle, I’m going to go out there and do it,” Slater said. “That’s the mentality I’m going to continue to to have.”
While Edelman has been painted in a controversial light with his arrest on Halloween for indecent assault at a Boston nightclub, Slater is regarded as one of the most religiously dedicated players to his faith in the locker room. That was apparent after the 31-24 win over the Colts on Sunday.
“I’m very thankful for the opportunity and thank God and thank the coaches and teammates for having the faith in me to put me out there. I’m just thankful we got away with a win and we have a lot of things to work on and get better at.”
While this was the first time Slater has played in the Patriots secondary, defense is not entirely new to the special teams captain. In 2006, as a junior at UCLA, Slater played 13 games, including two on defense. That year, he made nine tackles, including six solos. In his senior year in 2007, Slater played in 13 games, made 25 tackles. So, he wasn’t entirely shocked when Belichick and the coaching staff informed him this week he’d be practicing as a safety and starting the game at the position.
“Early on this week I found out,” Slater said. “My coaches and teammates really helped me to get prepared.”
Slater wasn’t just another player, he was one of the best on defense, finishing with seven combined tackles, tied with Jerod Mayo for third on the team. Only Vince Wilfork and Nate Jones had more. His six solos matched Jones for tops on the team.
“That was a lot of football. I’m going to sleep well. It was a lot of football today. I love it. I love playing football.”
Slater even forced a fumble in the third quarter, when he drilled running back Delone Carter. The fumble was recovered by Kyle Arrington. It led to a Tom Brady-to-Rob Gronkowski TD connection on a lateral play.
“I was excited to make a play to help our team and even more excited when Tom and the offense drove down and capitalized off of it,” Slater said. “So, just to be able to contribute to a team win and a team effort, it’s a good feeling.”
Asked if he could sense the down mood of the locker room after giving up three long TD drives to the Colts in the fourth quarter, Slater again turned to his faith to keep upbeat.
“From a team perspective, I know we can’t get complacent, regardless of winning,” Slater said. “We have to look at improving as a team. As far as how I handle things, my faith is my backbone and how I navigate through things, and how I navigate through the many twists and turns of my career. And I’ll continue to lean on that faith and take my guidance from above.
“All I know is God is good at the end of the day. I didn’t think I was going to play safety again to be honest with you but look at what he had in the plans. And he got me through it in one piece and we got a win. I guess I’m thankful to God than impressed with myself.”