Patriots’ Josh Uche is ’emerging’ as a formidable pass rusher

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The third-year linebacker is the first Patriot since Mike Vrabel to record multiple three-sack games in a season.

Patriots linebacker Josh Uche’s had a lot of reason to celebrate in recent weeks.
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Josh Uche had three sacks during all of last season. On Monday night against Arizona, he posted three sacks in one game.

The breakout season that the Patriots have been waiting on from the 2020 second-round pick out of Michigan has arrived.

“I told you all I’m not our best pass-rusher,” Patriots linebacker Matthew Judon, who leads the NFL with 14.5 sacks., told reporters on Monday. “Our best pass-rusher is emerging.”

Uche now has 10 sacks, which is tied for eighth in the NFL. He and Judon are the only teammates with more than 10 sacks each. The Eagles and Cowboys are the only teams with more sacks than the Patriots. Uche and Judon have combined for more than half of New England’s sacks.

“People are going to have to block and if they don’t and if they chip my side then they worry about me,” Judon said. “Uche would do that every week. I love the way he’s playing, the confidence and poise and it’s the most he’s been able to play since he’s been in the NFL. It’s taken a toll on him, but he’s going out there and having a lot of fun and success. We all knew it; we all knew what type of player he was.”

It’s taken more than just Uche’s pass-rushing abilities to carve out his role on the Patriots. He’s also shown the smarts and accountability to his teammates that have allowed him to be trusted to call defensive signals on third down.

As Raekwon McMillan mentioned after Monday night’s game, Uche has developed a consistency that has helped round out his game.

“That boy is a baller,” McMillan said. “[No.] 55 is going to show up and play ball every week so he’s a baller.”

Uche began the season under the radar. He had never made more than 12 tackles in a season before this one. He’s multiplied his production this season.

Now, his success is catching the attention of other players around the league, such as seven-time Pro Bowl pass rusher Cameron Jordan, who compared Uche to seven-time All-Pro Von Miller.

“Josh Uche got that sauce now,” Jordan said earlier this month. “He’s coming off the edge and I mean, they were playing the Bills, but he looked like Von Miller from the Bills – with that patented ghost (move) that he has.”

Uche was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week on Wednesday. It’s the fourth time a Patriots player has been named player of the week this season. The recognition comes after Uche’s second three-sack game of the season. His first was against the Colts in November.

Uche is the first Patriots player since Mike Vrabel in 2007 to have multiple three-sack games in a season.

“He’s really being dominant for us. We love it and need it,” Patriots defensive back Kyle Dugger said.

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