Christian Gonzalez stands out in NFL debut for New England Patriots
Christian Gonzalez slotting in as an immediate starter for the New England Patriots in their Week 1 game against Philadelphia didn’t come as a surprise. When the Patriots invested a first-round selection on the former Oregon corner, it seemed likely he would be thrown to the fire right away.
Did Gonzalez expect to play every single snap for the Patriots in his debut, though? Maybe not. But when the team placed second-year corner Jack Jones on injured a day before the opener, Gonzalez’s skillset became even more needed.
And he certainly impressed in his debut.
“Came out, showed out, so it was real fun,” Gonzalez said after the game.
Gonzalez had several strong plays in the second half, including a sack midway through the fourth quarter and then a pass breakup on fourth-and-2 with two minutes to play that gave the Patriots the ball at midfield with a chance to go win the game.
The 17th overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, Gonzalez had seven tackles in his debut to rank second on the defense.
“We knew what kind of guy we were getting,” safety Jabrill Peppers said, per The Boston Herald. “We’d seen it in OTAs, training camp. He’s a smart kid, ready to compete. And we need him to keep playing at that level.”
Safety Adrian Phillips called Gonzalez a “silent assassin” and said the rookie defensive back said three words all game.
“He played really well,” added safety Jalen Mills, per The Boston Globe. “Everything is always a learning experience, whether you play good or bad. But Gonzo, he is a guy who comes in, puts his hard hat on every day, and works hard, so to see him out there and play well, that’s good for him.”
The 6-foot-2 Texas native was an all-conference first-team performer for Oregon during his lone season in Eugene. He finished the year with 50 tackles and four interceptions — the third most in the Pac-12.
Gonzalez is off to a similarly strong start in the pros.