by Jacqueline Mills
As this season of professional football continues to progress, it’s clear that the New England Patriots are out for blood and redemption. All football fans also see what many Patriots fans know to be incredibly true; quarterback Tom Brady is one of the greatest players to grace the football field since we have been alive. With four big and shiny Super Bowl rings, the 39 year-old Patriot, who has been on the team since 2000, shows no sign of slowing down. However, we often focus solely on Brady, and forget to commend the hard work of some of his lesser known teammates. It takes a whole team, as well as a tremendous coaching staff, to accomplish what the Patriots have since Brady and Belichick signed on sixteen years ago. Players like David Andrews, Dont’a Hightower, and Ryan Allen are great examples of players who often miss the spotlight, but are extremely important in contributing to Tom Brady, and the New England Patriots’, success.
At 6’3”, weighing 295 lbs., and sporting #60 on his jersey, David Andrews is a force to be reckoned with. Hailing from Johns Creek, Georgia and playing as a three-year starter for the University of Georgia, Andrews is the Patriots’ center. At age 24, Andrews is in his second season with them team, and started at center due to previous player, Bryan Stork, starting the season on the short-term injured reserve. The center’s role on the field is extremely important, as he starts every play by snapping the ball to the quarterback. It is essential that the snap is delivered with the correct amount of pressure and to the right spot, as it will be a determinant as to if the play will go according to plan. In addition, Andrews has to block defensive linemen and linebackers, and alert other linemen if he believes there is going to be a blitz. Andrews consistently does what is required of his position, and plays begin smoothly as he snaps the ball to Brady.
Another important asset of the New England Patriots is Dont’a Hightower. At age 26, 6’3” and 265 lbs., #54 is the team’s strongside linebacker. Hightower is originally from Lewisburg, Tennessee, played at the University of Alabama, and is currently in his 5th season with the Patriots after being drafted in the first round of the 2012 NFL draft. As a strongside linebacker, he is responsible for stuffing and tackling the opposing team’s running back, covering the tight end in passing plays, and blitzing the team’s quarterback. Last season, Hightower started all 12 regular season games he played in and recorded 62 tackles, 3 ½ sacks, two passes defensed and one fumble recovery. He clearly works his tail off in order for Brady and the offensive players to get quickly back on the field and score more points.
Lastly, an often overlooked but certain important contributor to the team is #6, Ryan Allen. The 6’2”, 220 lbs. athlete comes from Salem, Oregon, and played at Louisiana Tech before signing with the Patriots in 2013. Currently in his fourth season with the team, Allen sets up the defense to succeed as a punter for Special Teams. A punter receives the snapped football directly from the line of scrimmage and then kicks it to the opposing team so as to limit any field position advantage. When doing said action, Allen has only a small time frame to do a very complex action correctly. Luckily for the Patriots, Allen punted 73 times for 3,358 yards during the 2015-2016 season with only three touchbacks. He also holds the status as New England’s all-time leader in punt average with a 46.1 average entering 2016. Looks like someone is doing their job right.
Without undermining the great successes and talents of the one and only TB12, it’s safe to say that the majority of the players on the New England Patriots play a vital role in leading the team to victory. Do I see a fifth Super Bowl win and ring in Tom Brady’s future this season? Only time will tell, but it’s looking favorable.