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Patriots notebook

Unsung Duron Harmon helping Patriots secondary stand out

Duron Harmon (21) is a central figure in the Patriots’ talented secondary this season.
Duron Harmon (21) is a central figure in the Patriots’ talented secondary this season. file/Mark Zaleski/associated press

Duron Harmon is sometimes the forgotten man in the Patriots secondary.

With steely veterans Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung installed as a sort of a rock ’em, sock ’em safety tandem, and a handful of talented cornerbacks led by All-Pro Stephon Gilmore, it’s easy to see why Harmon can get overlooked in a defensive backfield that is as stacked and experienced as any in the NFL.

But that’s never the case when it comes to his teammates and coaches — and especially his opponents.

Harmon earned a reputation as solid deep safety with a penchant for closing games with timely interceptions. As the seasons have gone by, however, Harmon has expanded his game and become one of the league’s most well-rounded safeties.


“I think Duron probably knows our defensive system as well as anybody maybe other than Devin,’’ Bill Belichick said Monday. “He and Pat and Devin have played together [for a while] and they have a great communication system, and sometimes just after the snap or in the middle of the play they know how to react based on what their teammate’s doing and things that they’ve encountered in previous games or years.’’

Communication has long been a buzzword for the Patriots defense, and Harmon’s experience and intelligence have allowed him to be an integral part of that system.

“Duron does an excellent job, too, of getting that communication to the corners and coordinating the safety and corner responsibilities and leverage and run support and things like that,’’ said Belichick.

“He’s a very good decision-maker, and he really has the green light, along with Devin, to do what he needs to do to make things right on the field based on the offensive personnel, formation, and, sometimes, [the] situation. So, we have a ton of confidence in him, and he always does the right thing.


“He had two or three plays [against the Dolphins] that could have gone either way, could have followed one rule, but he made the right decision on all of them, and he’s really a smart football player.’’

Harmon didn’t get the closing interception Sunday, but he did deflect the pass the led to Jamie Collins’s pick-6. The seventh-year veteran was thrilled to talk about the four interceptions the defense had because he knows what those usually translate into points.

Duron Harmon is off to another strong start.
Duron Harmon is off to another strong start.Elise Amendola/AP/Associated Press

“We know our offense is a really good offense,’’ Harmon said. “Best quarterback ever, best quarterback in the league. We just keep getting the ball in his hands, we know he’s going to make something happen.’’

He’s also well aware of how much talent there is in his secondary but he’s keenly aware that judgment day comes weekly in the NFL.

“We’re good. We’re in a good spot for sure right now,’’ he said. “Like I said last week, and I’ll say it this week, it’s still early. There’s so much we can improve on and we just have to continue to have the same mind-set we have right now and just go out there working hard and doing everything we can to play good football.’’


Some leftover nuggets from Sunday’s blowout win, the Patriots’ first shutout of the Dolphins in Miami: New England’s two pick-6s were the first time the team has had two defensive touchdowns since 2013 when Chandler Jones returned a fumble for one and Tavon Wilson return an interception for another in a win against in Baltimore . . . The Patriots are 2-0 for the 10th time in the Belichick Era . . . James White’s 10-yard TD catch allowed him to become the 16th back since 1970 merger to reach 20 TD receptions. He’s second on the franchise’s all-time list behind original Patriot Larry Garron (26), who died last week . . . Julian Edelman moved past Irving Fryar and into the No. 5 spot on the franchise’s all-time all-purpose yards list. Edelman has 8,512. Kevin Faulk tops the list with 12,339.


Jim McBride can be reached at james.mcbride@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globejimmcbride.