Few teams invest as much time and resources into special teams as the New England Patriots.
Bill Belichick takes this phase of the game very seriously, so it's no surprise that his 20-year tenure as Patriots head coach has included some of the best special teams players in the NFL.
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From 2001 through 2008, Larry Izzo was a special teams standout for the Patriots. He made three Pro Bowl appearances. The Patriots drafted Matthew Slater in 2008, and he's enjoyed a Hall of Fame-caliber career as a special teams star ever since.
Slater isn't the only special teams ace on New England's roster, though. The Patriots acquired three-time Pro Bowler Justin Bethel in October of last season. Slater and Bethel have formed one of the league's top special teams duos, giving the Patriots a real advantage in a critical area of the game.
Bethel joined NFL Network show "Good Morning Football" on Tuesday, and he talked about his relationship with Slater.
"I think it's been great," Bethel said. "When I got there it was funny because we both were always like, 'Hey man, what do we think the chances are of us being on the same team?' I was in the NFC, he was in the AFC, and even when I was in Baltimore, it was like, OK, we're in the same (conference). So now I'm kind of competing with him. But now we're on the same team, so we can be a great duo.
"During practice we talk a lot. We spend a lot of time working together, pick things up from each other. It's great, and I'm excited to get a full year playing with him."
Bethel tallied two fumble recoveries and six tackles in nine games for the Patriots last season.
The Patriots have gone through a lot of roster changes on both sides of the ball this offseason. The offense saw longtime quarterback Tom Brady leave, while the defense had several important veterans depart. The special teams unit, meanwhile, still has its two most important players in Slater and Bethel. So we should expect Patriots special teams to remain among the league's best in 2020.