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Patrick Chung seizes leadership role in secondary

05.31.12 at 3:59 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Last season Jerod Mayo continued his growth, not only as a player but as a leader of the linebacker corps. With Vince Wilfork already anchoring the defensive line, the secondary was the level of the defense left largely devoid of a true leader. This season, however, Patrick Chung, who enters his fourth season — just as Mayo did last year — looks to make a similar transition to fill the leadership role and spearhead the secondary.

“Coaches on the sideline give us information,” Chung said Thursday afternoon after New England’s OTA session ended. “You’ve got to have someone to relay it out there. I have to take charge and be mentally prepared. Everybody is physical, fast, strong, big, but the smarter guy always win[s]. So I’m trying to be smarter than everybody.”

The unit had several personnel changes in the offseason, adding veterans Will Allen and Steve Gregory, and drafting Tavon Wilson and Alfonzo Dennard. Ras-I Dowling re-enters the fold after missing nearly all of his rookie season while sustaining a hip injury in Week 2 against the Chargers last season. There is also the possibility of moving Devin McCourty from cornerback to safety, a position he saw spot duty towards the end of last season and into the playoffs.

Chung’s commitment to the mental competent of the defense bodes well for the Patriots in dealing with these additions, the interchangeable positional versatility, and helping others along.

“We all help each other,” Chung continued. “Regardless of who is safety or who’s at corner. If [McCourty] sees something I don’t see, he’ll tell me. If I see something that he doesn’t see, I’ll tell him. It’s kind of like a brotherhood, you’re going to tell your brothers what your going to tell the, whether it’s bad or it’s good.

“The offseason is the offseason,” he added. “You get out of it, but you’re ready to get back into it. I’m glad to be back with my boys. It’s time to play some ball.”

Chung’s 2011 campaign was marred by a foot injury that kept him out of the lineup for half the season. Still, the 24 year-old was able play well in the Patriots postseason run, and despite the disappointment of losing the Super Bowl, his straightforward demeanor will goes along with his aspirations to be a difference maker both on the field and in the locker room.

“Last year is last year, man,” Chung stoically said of the loss to the Giants. “We have to get ready for this year. We’re not worried about it.”

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