While it’s overstating things a bit to say there was a mass exodus from Foxborough this offseason, the quarterback room isn’t the only one undergoing a serious face lift.
Jamie Collins landed a deal in Detroit, while Kyle Van Noy and Elandon Roberts cashed in with the Dolphins, leaving a large linebacking void. Van Noy and Collins were both on the field for 81 percent of the defensive snaps last year, while Roberts served as a team captain.
Ja’Whaun Bentley is primed to fill a few of those reps.
The third-year linebacker flashed during the preseason as a rookie, but landed on injured reserve with torn biceps three weeks into the season. Last year Bentley worked his way into the rotation — he finished with 44 tackles — but playing at one of the deepest positions on the roster, there wasn’t an every-down role to fill.
On a video conference with reporters Wednesday, Bentley played it cool when asked about climbing the depth chart into a major role.
“I would say this year is just like every year,” Bentley said. “Just looking to find your role. Each guy has a role to play. We stress that a whole lot as an organization, finding a role and sticking with it. So whatever that role may be this year, I’m gonna look to again progress as well as find as many opportunities that the team needs to be filled.
“This is becoming kind of a cliché answer, but whatever the team needs I’m looking to do,” Bentley said. “So whether that is on the ball or off the ball, whatever I’m asked to do as far as our game plan and things like that, that’s what I’ll do.”
That said, Bentley does feel like he’s growing in New England.
Whether it was wisdom imparted by the veterans surrounding him, reps on the practice field, or cracking the gameday roster, Bentley thinks he’s become a better football player each season he’s spent in Foxborough.
“Obviously knowledge, knowledge of the game (has grown),” Bentley said. “Being able to be on the field and direct traffic a little bit more. Coming from college to the pros you surround yourself with great veterans which we have in our organization so it was a huge opportunity to learn from those guys and implement what you can learn and add it to your game. So I feel like Year 1 to Year 2, took some good steps. Year 3 you also want to take those same progressive steps and take your game to the next level.”