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Patriots DC DeMarcus Covington isn't planning major changes: 'If the foundation is built solid, you can continue to add on top of it'

The New England Patriots will have a new feel after decades with Bill Belichick running the show, but don't expect a ton to change on defense.

Newly promoted defensive coordinator DeMarcus Covington, who has been with the Patriots since 2017 -- most recently as the defensive line coach -- said he doesn't expect the D to change a ton under Jerod Mayo's leadership.

"I would say the defense wouldn't change as much, but when you turn on the tape, I think what we want to see is a physical team, a team that plays with good discipline and fundamentals, and a team that attacks the football and takes it away from an opponent," Covington said on Wednesday. "That's what we're trying to look for with our defense, and you know, a team that goes out there and plays together for one another. That type of togetherness, that's what we're really looking for."

It's not surprising the Patriots won't have wholesale changes on defense like they will on offense and special teams. A former linebacker, Mayo spent his entire NFL playing and coaching career under Belichick. Covington rose through the ranks in Foxborough from a coaching assistant to OLB coach to D-line coach to DC. The Belichick fingerprints will be all over the crew.

"There's a good foundation of players that laid the foundation of this defense even before I got here," Covington said. "And then we're adding, so the foundation, that's what starts with everything. If the foundation is built solid, you can continue to add on top of it and it won't fall. So that foundation was set before me, and then we just continued to add on to that foundation, which our players continue to add on to our foundation, and then the coaches that we're bringing in and the coaches that we have just continue to build on that."

That doesn't mean there won't be slight adjustments to the 2023 Patriots defense, with Covington noting that "every year is a new year."

Last season, Steve Belichick called the defensive plays, a responsibility Covington will man under Mayo. The former D-line coach will call plays for the first time as an NFL assistant.

"Yeah, I do plan on calling plays," he said. "And I would say you do get those practice reps, obviously on the practice field and also in the classroom for me, so gaining those reps, going through different games, going through situations in the meeting room with the other coaches, and then also putting myself in those situations on the practice field, that's how we do it. Just like the players are out there preparing to play, and they're going through reps, I should be doing the same things as a play-caller, doing those reps. And again, it just doesn't happen overnight, this is something where I've been preparing, this is something that I've wanted to do, so you already kind of take the necessary steps to prepare yourself for when you get the opportunity, to be ready."

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