New England Patriots safety Steve Gregory has proven me wrong this season, and I honestly couldn’t be happier. Last season, Gregory was clearly the worst starter on the Patriots defense, as he had plenty of difficulties in coverage and also managed to lead the defense in missed tackles. While he showed plenty of leadership and intangibles (Gregory is a good guy in every since and is somebody every fan should root for), Gregory’s on-field performance left a lot to be desired. Until sometimes around mid-August when I realized that Gregory was a better option than most of the other safeties on the roster, I vehemently argued that Gregory had no place on the 53-man roster.
Not only does he have a place on the roster for his experience and leadership, but he has a clear place on the Patriots defense as the team’s starting strong safety. Gregory is playing the best football of his career this season, and he’s made huge strides in run defense and even in coverage this year. Unfortunately, though, Gregory was forced to exit Sunday’s game with a thumb injury, and ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that he broke his thumb and will likely miss “a few weeks”.
It’s more bad news for the Patriots, who have had to soldier past an innumerable amount of major injuries. Rob Gronkowski, Danny Amendola, Aqib Talib, Shane Vereen, Vince Wilfork, Tommy Kelly, Sebastian Vollmer, Jerod Mayo, and now Gregory will have missed significant chunks of time this season. Gregory has been one of the most improved players in the NFL this season, and his absence means that the Patriots will have to start a raw, young safety in either rookie Duron Harmon or second-year pro Tavon Wilson.