FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Reggie Wayne has played 14 career games against the New England Patriots, catching 74 passes for 955 yards and five touchdowns.

As one of the Indianapolis Colts’ top receivers, he has been covered by the likes of Ty Law and Asante Samuel, two of the best cornerbacks in New England Patriots history, and tackled so violently by safety Rodney Harrison in a playoff game that he fumbled the ball.

When Wayne looks at this year’s Patriots secondary, he sees nothing but trouble for any offense, even one as high-powered as the Andrew Luck-led Colts.

“In my 14 years of playing New England, this has probably been the best, most complete secondary,” said Wayne. “I think it allows them to do more things up front with the front seven guys they hadn’t done probably during the past years. They’re very talented. They’re ball hungry.”

Heady praise from one of the era’s greatest receivers.

Everyone figured the Patriots’ secondary would be good this year. And while the focus was on the free-agent signings of cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner – tough, physical corners who can shut down any receiver – there was another less-heralded free-agent signing that has been very instrumental.

On April 4, about two weeks after the Patriots signed Revis and Browner, they brought safety Patrick Chung back for a second tour.

Chung was drafted out of Oregon by the Patriots in the second round of the 2009 draft, the 34th player selected overall. After four seasons he left New England and played in Philadelphia in 2013.

But when the chance to return to New England came up, he quickly came back. And he’s playing as well as – maybe even better than – ever. Chung is tied for second on the Patriots in tackles at 52, with 31 of them unassisted. He also has successfully defended four passes.

While he seems to be playing a hybrid role – often lining up close to the line, almost like a linebacker – Chung said his role is simply to make plays.

“Everybody’s role changes game by game,” he said. “So I can’t say my role, or someone else’s role, has changed. It’s simply whatever role you have that week. Whatever role Coach (Bill Belichick) puts you in, you’ve got to be ready.”

No one was surprised when Chung left after the 2012 season. His playing time has been cut dramatically over his last two seasons, because of injuries in 2011 and the 2012 arrival of cornerback Aqib Talib, whose presence allowed the Patriots to move Devin McCourty to safety. After a year away, he was more than happy to return to the place he began his NFL career, and to a team with familiar faces.

“Pat and I talked about (the 2012 season) after he was released from Philadelphia,” said Belichick. “We had a long conversation about a lot of things. Not saying it was anybody’s fault, it was just one of those things that didn’t work out. But we both felt that we’d want to try to give it another shot.”

Chung doesn’t talk about the reasons he left. All he will say now is, “That’s over. Now I’ve got to try to stay here.”

There was no guarantee that would happen in training camp, where he began the list deep down on the depth chart. But now, based on his production, it’s a good bet he’ll stick around.

“He’s helped us defensively in a number of areas,” said Belichick. “He’s been active, been around the ball, been productive and he’s got experience … I think it’s worked out, worked out really well.”

Chung doesn’t consider himself a mentor for young safeties Duron Harmon and Tavon Wilson – “We have a room of leaders, all trying to do the right thing and play to the best of our abilities,” he said – but he often offers them advice.

“He does a great job with that,” said Harmon, a second-year safety from Rutgers. “He’s been through a lot and if he sees me struggling, or maybe not doing something the way I should, he does a great job of pulling me aside to try to give me tips that will help.

“He’s helped me this year with a couple of tackling techniques. I mean, he’s a great tackler and just learning from him has really helped me.”

While Chung has often been maligned for his pass coverage, he could always tackle. Hard.

“Oh yeah, he brings that physical attitude,” said Harmon. “And not just in the game. He brings it to practice each and every day.”

Chung likes the way the secondary is playing. Communication, he said, has been exceptional lately.

“But it can always be better,” he said. “It’s good but it can be great. And if it’s great, it can be perfect. That’s what we’re striving for. We’re always trying to get better.”