New England Patriots

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - OCTOBER 10: Chase Winovich #50 of the New England Patriots celebrates after scoring a touchdown off of a recovered blocked punt against the New York Giants during the first quarter in the game at Gillette Stadium on October 10, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Chase Winovich is ostensibly the most active Patriots player on Twitter. Now, he’s used his platform to profess his love for being on the team, totally unprompted.

“I love being a Patriot,” Winovich tweeted out of nowhere on Thursday. In most cases, it would be just a generic declaration, and one that Patriots fans should enjoy. It’s only notable because Winovich missed OTAs and minicamp amid relatively unknown circumstances.

According to Doug Kyed of NESN.com, Winovich is dealing with “nothing major”, presumably a minor injury. After the former Michigan defensive end saw a surprising dip in playing time in the middle of the 2020 season – and turned heads when he publicly argued with Bill Belichick on the sidelines during a game against the San Francisco 49ers – his absence from 2021 offseason workouts became more curious by the day.

Pessimists could easily look at the overall situation and wonder if there were more behind-the-scenes problems brewing between Winovich and the Patriots. But if you take his tweet Thursday morning at face value, it’s a relief for a player who has shown promise as a pass-rusher on the field.

Even if Winovich loves being in New England and wants to stay long-term, he still has some catching up to do once training camp begins at the end of July. After missing OTAs and minicamp, he finds himself well behind his teammates that went through the “teaching” phase and basic installations that come with offseason workouts. And a lot of those teammates are different from 2020, particularly the returning Dont’a Hightower and Kyle Van Noy and free-agent addition Matt Judon at linebacker, and new faces on the defensive line like Davon Godchaux, Henry Anderson, and rookie Christian Barmore.

Even Winovich’s former Michigan teammate, Josh Uche, appears to have passed him on the depth chart for the time being after a strong showing at the practices reporters were able to see. Uche projects as a starting linebacker for 2021, potentially in a spot once occupied by Winovich.

So while he may not be in danger of a cut or trade, Winovich may be mistaken if he believes he’ll waltz into Foxborough and get the same exact playing time he saw before. Even if he truly loves it here, Bill Belichick would likely tell him he has a long way to go.

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Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @mattydsays. You can also email him at mdolloff@985thesportshub.com.