American Football

Patriots safety Kyle Dugger named AFC Defensive Player of Week 17


Miami Dolphins (21) Vs. New England Patriots (23) At Gillette Stadium
Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Related: ‘One-man band’ Kyle Dugger continues to be a difference-maker for the Patriots

Kyle Dugger is the new AFC Defensive Player of the Week. The third-year safety received the honor after playing a pivotal role in the New England Patriots’ 23-21 victory over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.

Dugger, 26, registered five tackles and two pass breakups in the game. His biggest play, however, came in the third quarter: he intercepted a pass by Dolphins quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, and ran the ball back 39 yards for a touchdown.

“Just cover-two dropping as the middle player,” Dugger later said about the play. “Got some odd drops, saw my threat was eliminated, so I was able to get my eyes back to the quarterback and get around to the backside vertical. Once I got my hands on the ball, I know I needed to score. It helped the team greatly. That was the goal.”

Dugger originally joined the Patriots as a second-round draft pick out of Lenoir-Rhyne in 2020, and is playing the best football of his career this season. A versatile member of the team’s secondary, he has appeared in 14 games and regularly made his presence felt — including on a league-leading three defensive touchdowns.

The latest of those has now made Dugger the fifth Patriot to receive Player of the Week honors this season. He is joining linebacker Matthew Judon (Week 5), kicker Nick Folk (Week 8), punt returner Marcus Jones (Week 11) and linebacker Josh Uche (Week 15).

Dugger is also the first player ever from Lenoir-Rhyne to be recognized in this manner.

Despite his success this season, however, Dugger still sees plenty of room for improvement in his game.

“I still have a ton of things to work on and get better at,” he said. “As far as how far I’ve come, I’m a lot better now than I was then. I’ll say that. I’ve learned a lot. I definitely know I have so much to learn still. I mess up still things. I know I shouldn’t be messing up. Things like being consistent, it’s still huge for me. I got a lot to work on still.”

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