Week 1 in the NFL is officially in the books. We saw a ton of new faces in live game action on both sides of the ball.
So who are all these new players?
Each week of the 2020 season, I will be highlighting one player on the team that Patriots fans should know about. For week two, I’m going to discuss linebacker Brandon Copeland.
Quick Facts: Brandon Copeland
Height/Weight: 6’3”, 263 lbs
College: University of Pennsylvania
Drafted: Undrafted in 2013
Contract status: Signed a 1 year, $1,047,500 contract with the Patriots, including a $137,500 signing bonus
Ravens and Titans Practice Squad
Even though Copeland had a productive four-year career at the University of Pennsylvania, in which he was the captain of the 2012 Ivy League Championship team, he still did not get drafted in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Instead, he signed an undrafted rookie deal with the Baltimore Ravens. Unfortunately for Copeland, he was cut during training camp.
Copeland had a brief stint on the Tennessee Titans practice squad in 2013 but was never promoted to the active roster.
In February 2015, Copeland signed an Arena Football League contract with the Orlando Predators. After an impressive performance at the NFL Veterans Combine, he ended up signing a one year contract with the Detroit Lions. At that combine, he ran a 4.52-second 40-yard dash and was considered one of the best prospects at the workout.
In two seasons with the Lions, Copeland appeared in 33 games. He primarily played on special teams and as a linebacker. His stat line consisted of up .5 sacks, 1 forced fumble, and 30 combined tackles.
In 2017, Copeland suffered a torn pectoral in the Lions’ first preseason game, which ultimately cost him the the season.
New York Jets
The New York Jets signed Copeland to a one year deal in 2018. He would have a career year for the Jets with five sacks, 20 quarterback hits, 47 tackles and three passes defended.
As a result to Copeland’s successful 2018 season, the Jets re-signed Copeland to another one year deal in 2019. The only issue was that he suspended for the first four games of the 2019 regular season for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy.
Copeland missed the first five weeks of the 2019 season because the Jets had a week 4 bye. Copeland would return playing in all 12 remaining games, making three starts, and serving as a key contributor on special teams.
Becoming a Patriot
In March of 2020, Copeland signed a $1.1 million contract with the Patriots. He was ranked as PFF’s 50-best linebacker last season. It was an important signing after New England lost Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins, Elandon Roberts, and Kyle Van Noy to free agency and Covid-19 opt outs.
In the Patriots week one opener against the Dolphins, Copeland started at linebacker alongside Ja’Whaun Bentley. Copeland only played 22 total snaps in that game. 14 snaps on special teams, and 8 snaps on defense. With those 22 snaps, he had 3 combined tackles, including a tackle for a loss, and 2 assisted tackles. He had one tackle on special teams.
It should be noted that Copeland got the week one start over both recently drafted rookie linebackers. The Patriots used second and third round picks of the 2020 NFL Draft on Josh Uche (60th overall) and Anfernee Jennings (87th overall).
In conclusion, with Copeland being a versatile linebacker with some veteran experience, he will likely continue to see the field based on defensive game plans.
Do you have a player recommendation for next week’s spotlight? Let me know on Twitter @Kevin_Tame.
–Kevin Tame, Jr. is a Staff Writer for Full Press Coverage and covers the New England Patriots. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Tame