Patriots

Matthew Slater set to reach milestone for Patriots vs. Falcons

Patriots

Matthew Slater's place in New England Patriots history is about to become even more exclusive.

As soon as Slater takes the field for for the Patriots against the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday Night Football, the special teams ace will become just the fifth player in the 62-year history of the franchise to appear in 200 regular season games.

Slater will join Tom Brady (285), Bruce Armstrong (212), Julius Adams (206) and Stephen Gostkowski (204) as the only players in team history to reach 200 in the regular season.

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If you include postseason contests, four more New Englanders are on the list, including Mosi Tatupu, Tedy Bruschi, Troy Brown and current Patriot Devin McCourty -- who'll be appearing in his 182nd regular season game Thursday, with a shot to join the 200-club next season.

Slater, 36, is enjoying his 14th season with New England after being selected by the team in the fifth round of the 2008 NFL Draft out of UCLA. He's appeared in nine Pro Bowls, more than any primarily special teams player in NFL history, and has twice been First Team All-Pro (2016, 2019) as a special teamer.

Over the course of his career, Slater played in all 16 games for New England seven times and only once played in fewer than 12 contests, when a hamstring injury limited him to nine games in 2017.

Making Slater's longevity even more impressive is that aside from his various and vast contributions on special teams, he has just one career reception as a wide receiver: a 46-yard catch from Brady in a wild Monday Night Football game against the Miami Dolphins in 2011. Slater scored the first and to date only touchdown of his career in a game against the Buffalo Bills in 2019, when he returned a punt blocked by J.C. Jackson for a score.

 

Slater is also one of just eight NFL players still active from the 2008 draft, and one of only two still playing for the team which originally drafted them. The other one: Thursday night's opposing quarterback, Matt Ryan, who was drafted third overall by the Falcons.