New England Patriots are finding ways to win this season with fewer and fewer Pro-Bowlers. This time, James Develin.

Develin, a Pro-Bowler in 2017, has been the full back during many of Tom Brady‘s greatest games. A combination of size and speed, Develin helps with blocking for the running game and handling the ball from time to time.

Head Coach Bill Belichick stated that Develin has been a key instrument in the success of the program the past few years, “I think we are fortunate to have James Develin on our team,” said the coach. “He works extremely hard, he’s versatile player that does things for us offensively and in the kicking game. He’s very dependable and has a lot of experience in our system.”

All that experience will be replaced by rookie Jakob Johnson.


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Johnson played football in his home country of Germany before coming to the U.S. and playing for Tennessee. He came to the Patriots in April as part of the  NFL’s International Pathway program. According to Belichick, he did not have a good chance of making the team originally.


“He was not on our radar. I don’t think we would have ever signed him,” he said, “I would say he definitely started out as the 91st person on the roster and had a long, long, long way to go. Back in the spring, I don’t think anybody ever envisioned him being on the roster at that point, or even being on the practice squad, to tell you the truth.”

But Belichick acknowledged that Johnson kept playing his way through preseason, becoming the lead back-up to Develin.

“What he’s done has been remarkable, and in a relatively short period of time,” Belichick stated. “He puts literally every ounce of energy he has into this job and our team, and he’s totally earned everybody’s respect. He’s a young player, he’s got a long way to go, there’s a lot of room for improvement, but he works very hard at it.”

The lack of experience with an injured offensive line that Brady has enjoyed for so many years will be tested against the surprising other top team in the conference, the Buffalo Bills, this Sunday at 1 p.m. EST.

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