Linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley is, according to Patriots Coach Bill Belichick, the leader of the defense’s front seven. Winslow Townson/Associated Press

FOXBOROUGH — Since being drafted by the New England Patriots in the fifth round of the 2018 draft, linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley has risen through the ranks.

After starting out as the young kid playing behind the likes of Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins and Kyle Van Noy, Bentley is now the guy younger players look to on defense. On Monday, Bill Belichick said that Bentley is one of the team’s two key defensive leaders along with safety Devin McCourty.

“He and Devin do a great job of leading the defense: Bentley in the front seven, McCourty in the back end,” Belichick said. “And they work together well.”

Bentley has a key role on the 2022 Patriots defense as one of the few carryovers in a linebacker group that saw a lot of turnover this offseason. One of the team’s newest additions at the position, Mack Wilson, described Bentley as “definitely someone we call a leader on this team.”

“He’s a great leader,” Wilson added. “One of those guys who I first talked to when I got acquired here with the Patriots, and just how goes about his work, and the experiences he has here with the Patriots, it just goes along with all the players in the room.”

Belichick attributed Bentley’s leadership abilities to his time during high school and at Purdue, as the first three-time captain in the program’s history.


After being drafted in 2018, Bentley saw time in the first three games of the season, but suffered an injury in late September. He was placed on injured reserve, but worked his way back to become a key member of the defense. Belichick said that Bentley has a “very strong voice, but not overpowering.”

“He has really good leadership,” Belichick said. “Each year it’s gotten better. This year, he’s had an outstanding training camp. He’s a very smart player, he understands situations, calls, adjustments – knows how to apply them and does a great job of communicating.”

As the co-linebackers coaches, Jerod Mayo and Steve Belichick have worked closely with Bentley, noticing and continuing to encourage his communication. Belichick compared Bentley’s communication with Mayo’s, saying that “Jerod was probably the best communicator on defense we’ve ever had here,” and Bentley has been able to learn from him.

“He’s definitely grown since my first year coaching in 2019,” Mayo said. “It’s his room and he’s done an excellent job for us in the classroom. He’s done an excellent job coming out here being ready to go.”

This praise comes after teammate Matthew Judon referred to Bentley as “our leader” on the Patriots defense following training camp last Monday.

A WEEK AFTER scrapping on the practice field, there are no hard feelings between Christian Barmore and David Andrews.


During an 11-on-11 period with temperatures in the mid 90s last Tuesday, Barmore and Andrews went at it. The entire offense and defense swarmed as tempers flared and whistles screeched. Belichick kicked both linemen out of practice, but after cooling off, there’s no ill will.

“That’s my brother. You know how football is. We’re buddies. That’s my guy,” Barmore said on Monday. “Just a football thing. That’s my guy. That’s my OG. I learn every day from him. Real good player. It’s love.”

“It’s just football,” Andrews concurred.

The were no further repercussions from the fight, though it could have gotten uglier in the moment. An earnest Mac Jones was among those trying to break things up, and as the scrum spun, the quarterback almost wound up at the bottom of the pile before Nelson Agholor pulled him away.

“I tried to get in there a little bit,” Jones cracked last week “It’s two guys I have a lot of respect for. At this point in camp, that’s gonna happen. I just want to make sure I can talk to both of those guys and try to stop it. At the end of the day, we’re teammates and we all know that. We’re competing. It’s just tough love.”

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