Several Patriots readying for first playoff appearance

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Being a member of the New England Patriots through the Tom Brady-Invoice Belichick period has usually meant a assured place within the playoffs.

Nonetheless, for 20 gamers on the Patriots’ lively roster Saturday will mark the primary style of the postseason of their NFL careers.

That group features a pair of starters who’ve crammed vital roles for New England this season in defensive finish Chris Lengthy and receiver Chris Hogan.

Lengthy hadn’t gained greater than seven video games in any of his eight years with the Rams from 2008 to 2015 previous to signing with New England this offseason.

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Hogan, in his fourth season, spent the previous three seasons playing for AFC East rival Buffalo. The closest he came to the playoffs with the Bills was a 9-7 finish in 2014.

“I’ve never experienced it before so this is all new to me,” Hogan said. “Just talking to some of the guys, the playoffs, you talk about preseason going into the regular season, the speed kind of picks up, and I’ve heard that from a number of guys that the playoff speed picks up a little bit more.”

Long’s playoff drought is the longest of any of the Patriots.

“I think everything happens for a reason. Sometimes you might not like it, but listen, it is what it is,” he said.

“I’ve been very lucky throughout my career in a lot of ways, so whatever brought me to this point… I’m just going to be excited to be in the moment. Everybody earns it.”

Hogan has fit right into the Patriots receiving group, making 14 starts. He’s fourth on the team with 38 catches for 680 yards and four touchdowns.

Long has appeared in 16 games this season with 35 tackles and four sacks. He’s helped fortify New England’s pass rush following the trades of Chandler Jones and Jamie Collins.

Defensive coordinator Matt Patricia said Long’s efforts haven’t gone unnoticed by the coaching staff.

“I think he has enjoyed the process and just really as far as that is concerned has been a guy that’s out there working really hard every day to get better and play hard for his teammates,” Patricia said. “That’s all you can really ask for.”

Another Patriots offseason addition is being reacquainted with playoff football.

Tight end Martellus Bennett spent his first four NFL seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, and had a forgettable experience of the postseason in…

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