Patriots rookie Marte Mapu rising as versatile defender


“I had my hand within the dust and every part. I believe I’ve performed every part.”

New England Patriots rookie linebacker Marte Mapu during their minicamp at Gillette Stadium practice field.
Marte Mapu has been spectacular at each linebacker and security thus far throughout OTAs and minicamp. Matthew J. Lee/Globe Workers

FOXBORO — Marte Mapu stored issues simple on Monday afternoon.

Regardless of spending a majority of his OTA and minicamp reps in New England’s defensive backfield, the 2023 third-round choose is listed as a linebacker on the official Patriots’ roster.

So what ought to the media label him as? Linebacker? Security?

“Name me no matter they let you know to name me,” Mapu mentioned of the Patriots and his function of their protection.

It was a easy response for a younger participant whose early snaps in New England have been something however.

Whereas Might and June are sometimes the time when rookies are merely tasked with studying their coaches’ gameplan and primary schemes, Mapu has been slotted all around the depth chart in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills in opposition to Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe.

“I believe it goes into the evolution of the sport whenever you discuss guys having the ability to play a number of positions,” veteran security Adrian Phillips mentioned of Mapu on Friday. “Seeing him on the market on the sphere, all of it appears to be like comfy for him. It appears to be like like stuff that he’s seen earlier than.”

For Mapu, his jack-of-all-trades task is nothing new. From his Pop Warner days the place he even took snaps as a quarterback, Mapu has been all around the gridiron.

“I really feel like I’ve performed in every single place,” Mapu mentioned. “I had my hand within the dust and every part. I believe I’ve performed every part.”

Regardless of clocking in at 6-foot-3 and 216 kilos, Mapu was primarily utilized as a defensive again throughout his collegiate profession at Sacramento State. However given his mix of velocity and measurement, Mapu was additionally moved all the best way as much as the defensive position at occasions.

When New England took him with the 76th choose within the 2023 draft, he was tabbed as a linebacker.

“How our staff was utilized in faculty, we have been type of a recreation plan staff,” Mapu mentioned of his varied roles and his scouting profile whereas in faculty. “And we might change, not solely recreation to recreation, however yr to yr. So I type of really feel prefer it was simply as much as the way you seen me — whether or not it was at your college and recreation planning in opposition to me, or when you have been a scout.”

To date, Mapu has made his presence felt throughout New England’s protection. After standing out throughout Friday’s ultimate OTA session with an interception and a cross breakup, Mapu batted down one other throw throughout Monday’s minicamp session.

Mapu has additionally turned heads over these previous couple of weeks whereas donning a purple, non-contact jersey. Despite the fact that minicamp doesn’t characteristic dwell contact, Mapu remains to be recovering from a torn pectoral muscle he suffered whereas bench urgent in February.

“Soccer is soccer,” Mapu mentioned. “It simply comes all the way down to studying your keys, understanding and realizing your personnel. … I really feel like I don’t need to do every part, you realize what I’m saying? That’s the distinction between right here and faculty. There is perhaps completely different necessities in comparison with being right here. It’s simply doing all your job.”

It stays to be seen how Mapu’s function will proceed to evolve in New England’s protection, particularly with greater than a month nonetheless separating the rookie from coaching camp.

However thus far, the California native is placing himself within the combine for helpful reps this fall.

“I’m doing every part I can on my half, nevertheless it’s onerous to inform what the method appears to be like like as a result of one, we’re not in pads, two, we’re actually removed from the season and haven’t performed any actual video games but,” Mapu mentioned. “However however, I’m simply attempting to take in as a lot as I can and develop day by day.

“I’m comfy doing something they ask me to do, they watched my movie, they know my strengths and weaknesses, I simply attempt to comply with by means of with no matter they ask me to do.”