After playing just 11 defensive snaps in Week 1 against the Dolphins, rookie defensive back Kyle Dugger has seen an increase in playing time the last few weeks.
In Seattle he played 34 snaps (50 percent) and then against the Raiders he played 25 snaps (42 percent). Against Las Vegas, Joejuan Williams appeared to be benched following a few holding penalties and Dugger took over for him against tight end Darren Waller.
Dugger held his own against one of the league’s best at that position.
“More than anything for me it’s huge just to have the team’s confidence and the coaches’ trust in me and giving me the opportunity to play that role,” he said Wednesday. “It’s really big for me. I’m really thankful for it.”
Looking ahead to this week, the Patriots will face another tough tight end — perhaps the league’s best in Kansas City’s Travis Kelce.
Kelce is 6-foot-5, so Williams is the better matchup from a height perspective as he is 6-foot-4 and Dugger is 6-foot-2. But, after what happened Sunday who knows what Bill Belichick and Co. will dial up.
“They both run routes well even though it’s not exactly the same,” Dugger said when asked to compare Waller and Kelce. “I think Kelce is a little more physical at the top of is routes. So there’s definitely some differences in that but they both run routes well and are savvy at it.”
In the past, the Patriots have mixed things up against Kelce, and all the Chiefs playmakers for that matter, but through three games the rookie out of D-II Lenoir-Rhyne has shown he can be part of that mix.