Patriots

Retired Patriots safety Patrick Chung hopes Kyle Dugger is ‘better than me’

Dugger will wear the newly-retired Chung's old No. 23 for the Patriots this fall.

Patriots Kyle Dugger Patrick Chung
Kyle Dugger. Winslow Townson/AP
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Patrick Chung helped redefine what a safety on a field during his time with the New England Patriots.

Now, he’s hoping one of his successors in Foxborough can take things even further.

The newly-retired defensive back spoke glowingly about second-year safety Kyle Dugger, whom many believe to be a possible replacement for the longtime Patriots Swiss Army Knife, during an interview with NESN Sunday.

“I think he can be really good,” Chung said. “He’s young, he’s raw, he has the size, he has the instincts.”

The hard-hitting Dugger made headlines by requesting Chung’s old No. 23 and showing up wearing the new jersey number during spring practices. Dugger wore No. 35 as a rookie.

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Chung, who played all but one of his 11 NFL seasons with the Patriots, says he was honored when the young safety came to him with the request.

“It was simple — he just asked me,” he said. “I’m like, ‘Is that what you want?’ And he goes, ‘That was the plan.’ I said, ‘All right, take it. Just make sure you take over.’ And that was it. … That’s huge respect. A lot of people don’t have to ask. If (a number is) open, they’ll take it. But for him to call me and ask when he didn’t have to, I appreciate that.”

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With starting safeties Devin McCourty and Adrian Phillips back this year, Dugger might have a chance to use his versatility to carve out a role on the field against the NFL’s increasingly spread-out offensive attacks.

Both McCourty and Phillips are free agents after this season, though, opening the door for Dugger to possibly seize full control of a starting spot.

Chung, for one, wants to see it, even saying he hopes the talented safety can be “better than me.”

“I pray to God that he’s way better than I am because that’s only going to help us as Patriots,” he added. “Hopefully, he can get to that point. I believe that he can. He has all the intangibles, so I’m praying for that.”

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