Logan Ryan hopes it all works out

All too quietly, Patriots cornerback Logan Ryan is figuring it out.The Rutgers product has played very well over the last month, and the nickel role might be his to keep as a result. Ryan doesn’t lack confidence, and he said his performance is on par with where it should be at the moment, though that’s merely a base for his expected progression through the season.

“I’m putting in a lot of work,” Ryan said. “It’s not where I want it to be at the end of the year, but for right now, I’m just trying to get better week to week. That’s all I can do.”

Ryan got off to a rocky start in the first two preseason games against the Packers and Saints, allowing quarterbacks to complete 4-of-10 passes for 95 yards and one touchdown. He also committed two holding penalties and had a pair of pass breakups.

But in four games since then, quarterbacks are 4-of-12 for 38 yards and one interception when targeting Ryan, who also has two pass breakups in that span. To be fair, that included Giants quarterback Ryan Nassib’s 1-of-7 performance against Ryan in the preseason finale, but improvement in the face of adversity is always better than the alternative.

Around the time of Ryan’s ascent, he welcomed the birth of his first daughter, Avery, on Aug. 15. Maybe the timing is a coincidence. Maybe not. But it has at least changed Ryan’s perspective.

“It’s less sleep, but it’s more purpose when I wake up,” Ryan said. “That’s the way I describe it. I feel like I have more energy than I had before because I know I have another mouth to feed, and somebody who, when I come home, doesn’t care exactly how I played. I’ve got to be there to support her. It’s fun and I couldn’t ask for more of a blessing.”

Malcolm Butler has been the Patriots’ top cornerback since the start of training camp, and Tarell Brown wrestled the No. 2 job away from Ryan prior to the Saints game. Since then, Ryan and Bradley Fletcher have competed for the third job, and it was Fletcher’s against the Steelers in the opener, when Ryan’s four snaps were the fewest among defensive players who checked into the game.

Ryan played 50 snaps against the Bills, and Tyrod Taylor was 3-of-4 for 19 yards and an interception when throwing in his direction. He also bounced between the slot and perimeter, which provided more versatility than Fletcher, who is an outside corner.

Ryan has enjoyed the challenge of switching positions because it has given him a better understanding of the entire secondary.

“I like it, more opportunities to make plays in different parts of the field. It makes you a better player,” Ryan said. “They’re different positions, and they require different things, but it all comes down to the same fundamentals. You just make sure you’re sharp fundamentally, which is a test and I like that.”

The cornerback rotation has evolved on a weekly basis since early August, but it’s possible the Pats have settled on their top three for now. At least, Ryan’s play has warranted the promotion.

“We’re going to play the best players to win that game,” Ryan said. “When you buy in as a secondary and when you buy in as a team, you see how it pans out, how you can experience success. It’s really about putting the team first. That’s what we really believe in here.”

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