FOXBORO — New England Patriots defensive tackle Christian Barmore is entering the 2022 NFL season with even bigger expectations than he did his rookie year.
How so? It's not like he had a bad rookie season.
Barmore has been one of the best player on the field for the Patriots through nine practices. He has quickly become one of the most important pieces to their defense. In fact, the former Alabama star is capable of becoming the Patriots’ best defensive player this season.
Bill Belichick offered high praise for his young defensive lineman when he was asked about his performance in training camp so far.
"Christian's done a good job," the coach said. "He's way ahead of where he was last year."
Barmore finished his rookie season with 36 tackles, two pass deflections, and one and a half sacks. He also recorded 51 quarterback pressures, which placed him ninth-most among all defensive tackles. As impressive as those stats are, the expectations are even higher headed into year two.
Without discrediting Barmore's rookie season, there is of course plenty of room for improvement. The two areas he is working to improve this season are converting pressures into sacks and improving as a run defender.
The Patriots ranked 22nd in rushing yards allowed and 25th in opposing yards per carry, despite holding opponents under 100 rushing yards in eight games.
"First of all, he's in much better condition," Belichick said. "Second of all, he has a much better understanding of what we do, what our opponents do, and the daily routine and weekly routine because he's been through it."
Despite being a rookie, Barmore showed flashes of being a true three-down defensive tackle and should become more of that type of player with more experience.
One of the issues with New England's defense in 2021 was consistency. At times the unit made key third-down stops, or forced turnovers, but then there were games like against Buffalo in the playoffs in which they couldn't get off the field.
"His physical development, his techniques, his skills, overall strength, speed, and stamina have improved. They were good anyway, but they've gotten better through training. He's making progress."
The 23-year-old owned James Ferentz in a 1-on-1 drill and was able to beat Michael Onwenu, who just happens to be one of the Patriots' better offensive linemen. At times, unless he sees a double team, offensive linemen are struggling to block Barmore.