Logan Ryan had quite a rookie season in 2014. (USA TODAY Images)

(This is the third in a series of individual player spotlights over the next few weeks leading up to training camp. We’ll have several each day, so check back frequently as we go down the roster.  This edition focuses on Patriots cornerback Logan Ryan:)

2013 Summary: It’s been a while since a player has emerged and made the same type of splash in their rookie season that 2013 third round draft pick Logan Ryan did, and it fortunately ended up being one of the best surprises that happened to New England’s defense last year.

After not seeing much playing time through the first five games of the season, the rookie out of Rutgers obviously showed Bill Belichick and the coaches enough for him to get increased playing time on the road during the team’s week seven match-up against the Jets, which saw him play in 70% of his snaps (64-of-91) in a 30-27 overtime loss.  However, Ryan caught everyone’s attention with his first interception of the year, which he returned 79-yards for a touchdown in the first quarter of the game.

Overall he finished the season with a team best five interceptions, and was tied for third on the team in tackles during the postseason.  He’s a talented, physical player who is one of the best prospects in a secondary that has been in dire need of young talent in recent years.  His emergence helps make this group one of the more dangerous ones we’ve seen in a while thanks to the addition of Brandon Browner and Darrelle Revis and sets up what should be an interesting year.

Best game of 2013:

One of Ryan’s best games in coverage came in week 16 on the road against the Ravens during their 41-7 rout.  Ryan finished that game with two interceptions and three total passes defensed, and looked less like a rookie and more like a player who seemed right at home in New England’s system.

Notable Stat of 2013:

Ryan also showed his ability to get after the passer during the team’s home win over the Dolphins in week eight, taking down quarterback Ryan Tannehill for 1.5 sacks in that game.  He also finished third on the team with 10 passes defensed in 2013, one better than Devin McCourty (9) trailing just Kyle Arrington (13) and Aqib Talib (14) in that category.

What to Watch For in 2014: 

One of the biggest things that can’t be overlooked about Ryan is the fact he’s got such terrific instincts and is just a really smart football player.  He mostly played corner last season, but didn’t appear to have any trouble when asked to do other things in some game-specific packages.  He’s facing an interesting battle heading into training camp considering he’s going to have to battle for playing time in a group that suddenly has quite a bit of talent.  Going along with Revis and Browner are Arrington and Alfonzo Dennard, although Ryan may see more time earlier in the season while Browner serves his four game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.

With another year under his belt we’ll see if he’s able to take the next step this season.  If he does and this group plays up to its potential, this could be quite a difficult bunch for teams to try and pass against in 2014.