Patriots' Josh Uche Has 'Most to Prove' Heading Into 2024 Season

It's a big year ahead for the New England Patriots' pass rusher.
Aug 2, 2023; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots linebacker Josh Uche (55) heads to the practice fields at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 2, 2023; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots linebacker Josh Uche (55) heads to the practice fields at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports / Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports
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As we approach the 2024 NFL season, this New England Patriots defense has a lot of potential on hand to be a formidable unit, but it relies upon a few playmakers on the roster to take a step forward to reach those expectations.

New England has several impact players on defense that we know what we're getting out of from week one. Guys like Matthew Judon, Christian Barmore, Kyle Dugger, and Jabrill Peppers are the primary cogs that make this machine run so effectively, but the Patriots still need some other candidates to step forward for big-time seasons.

Among those players on watch for a big 2024 in Foxboro should be LB Josh Uche, who PFF pins as one of 10 NFL players with the most to prove this upcoming season:

Uche was sensational in 2022, amassing 56 pressures on only 285 pass-rush snaps. Despite having a similar workload last year, Uche mustered just 37 pressures, while his total number of defensive stops dropped from 19 to 6. The four-year pro has been harangued by injuries throughout his career, but he has been good in two of his four seasons (2020 and 2022). The other two haven’t gone according to plan. Now on a one-year deal, Uche needs to prove he’s more than a flash in a pan if he wants to hang around as a bona fide starter.

Bradley Locker, PFF

This past season was a major step back from what we saw Uche produce in 2022. The Patriots pass rusher secured double-digit sacks with 11.5 two years ago, but saw that number decrease to just three across New England's most recent campaign.

The 25-year-old still has an abundance of time in his career to turn things back around, but with just one year under contract in New England, this upcoming season may have massive implications for the former second-rounder's future in Foxboro.

Uche re-upped with the Patriots on a one-year, $3 million contract to return to New England for 2024, and the message of the contract made it clear that this upcoming season would be a "prove-it" type of year for the Michigan product. He's clearly shown the talent to make himself a mainstay on the roster, but that consistency needs to come along as well to cement that status.

New England's front seven should see an overall improvement with a healthy Judon back in the lineup, and Uche could be a significant beneficiary of his return. The Patriots remained a top-half defense in 2023 despite suffering from a lowly 4-13 regular season record. If Uche can get himself back to form from two years ago, expect this unit to keep improving.


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Jared Koch

JARED KOCH