FOXBORO -- Patrick Chung and Steve Gregory haven't been playing together for long, but they're engaging in friendly competition with one another like old friends.
When Gregory intercepted a Chase Daniel pass in the third quarter of New England's 7-6 win over the Saints on Thursday night, Chung let him know that the next one was his.
"That's just the nature of the beast," Gregory said with a smile. "He had to get one, too. He had to keep up, you know?"
Chung did keep up with a pick of his own in the same quarter. Saints quarterback Sean Canfield made it easy on the Patriots safety when he plugged one into the breastplate of Chung's pads.
Though Gregory's interception seemed to provide more of a challenge -- he bobbled the ball several times before finally securing it -- Chung was happy to snag a turnover of his own.
"I'm taking any interception," Chung said. "Easy, hard, kind of hard -- I'm taking all of them. It felt good."
Keeping the Saints out of the end zone on Thursday felt even better, though, he said.
"We played good," Chung said. "We have to watch some film, obviously. I can't really give you a full explanation on that but for the most part we played good. We held them to six points so that's always good."
Gregory said that this current iteration of the Patriots defense is "taking pride" in trying to erase the stigma of being ranked 31st in the league last season. If they are to get better, the improved play at the back end of the defense will be one of the reasons why.
Both players feel like they're well on their way to getting there because of the strong bond they've already formed this preseason.
"He's been amazing," Gregory said of Chung. "He knows the scheme, knows the system so he's been helping me a lot with that. We've just been communicating, talking a lot, trying to learn each other's ways of playing so it's been great so far."
"We kind of help each other," Chung said. "He's a veteran he knows a lot of things that I don't know and he helps me out. I've been here for a while so I kind of help him out. It's kind of like a relationship. Relationships can only get stronger so we're going to see how that goes. But yeah, I love playing next to him and he helps me out a lot."