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Shaun Ellis says the Patriots make him feel ‘like a weapon’ again

08.08.11 at 6:31 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Only time will tell if Shaun Ellis will turn out to be the new Patriot missile. But the way Patriots coach Bill Belichick is stocking his arsenal of defensive linemen, Ellis certainly figures to be deployed in some sense on a regular basis once the games begin for real.

The latest in the surplus of defensive lineman to report to Gillette Stadium said Monday only watched practice from the sidelines in shorts and a t-shirt.

After spending his first 11 seasons in the NFL with the archrival Jets, Ellis said he is more than ready to flip the switch and wear the red, white and blue.

“Guys change teams all the time,” Ellis said. “I’€™ve just been fortunate enough to play 11 years with the Jets. I had a great time, a great experience. It’€™s just one of those things when it’€™s time to move on, you have to move on. I’€™ve found a new home here and guys have welcomed me in. I was kind of a little hesitant at first, a little weird feelings, but once I got in here they made me feel like a weapon. Is it easy? Yeah it is.”

Ellis was selected by the Jets in the first round (12th overall) of the 2000 NFL Draft.The great symmetry is well-known by now. He was one of the picks the Jets received as compensation for allowing Bill Belichick to leave in the “I resign as HC of the NYJ” deal that began Belichick’s head coaching tenure in New England in the fall of 2000.

Ellis was the first of four first round draft picks that the Jets had that year. The other players drafted were John Abraham (13th overall), Chad Pennington (18th overall) and Anthony Becht (27th overall).

Ellis was an immediate impact player and in his rookie season recorded 8.5 sacks. Only Hugh Douglas in 1995 with 10 sacks ranks higher in Jets history for most sacks by a rookie. After 2001 and 2002 campaigns which saw his overall numbers drop, Ellis rebounded in 2003 with an impressive 12.5 sacks. Ellis followed up his 2003 season with 11 sacks in 2004.

There have been numerous memorable moments of Ellis’ career, including several against the Patriots. Ellis is probably most noted for his single-handed destruction of the Patriots offensive line last January when he had two sacks in the first half as the Jets built a big lead and held on for a 28-21 AFC Divisional Round win at Gillette.

Ellis anchored a strong Jets run defense which contributed to a 10-6 season and a wild card berth. He also recorded three sacks in the final game of the 2004 regular season against the St. Louis Rams.

Ellis recovered a J.P. Losman fumble and ran it for a touchdown in the final 2 minutes on Dec. 14, 2008 in a home game against the Bills, giving the Jets the lead and the eventual 31-27 win.

One week later, Ellis was fined $10,000 for tossing snow at opposing fans when the Jets played the Seahawks at Qwest Field. Ellis said it was “all in good fun.”

By 2009, no one had played in a Jets uniform longer than Ellis. Now, that’s all behind him. He’s in New England, playing for the coach that he helped land in Foxboro.

“It’€™s good,” he said Monday. “You know, it feels like home. It feels like a place that’€™s all about winning, like they have been [winning]. I’€™m just happy to be a part of it.”

And his feelings about the Jets, who essentially let him go this week by offering him only a minimum qualifying offer, easily surpassed by the reported $4 million offer from the Patriots, plus incentives for 2011.

“Basically, a lot of things went down,” Ellis said. “The Jets felt like they wanted to go in a different direction and I made the best decision that was best for me and my family and I chose to come here.

Other tidbits from Monday’s Q&A with Ellis at Gillette.

Q: Was it jarring to hear the Jets wanted to go in a different direction and basically offered you the minimum?

SE: Yeah it was. But it’€™s a business. It’€™s the nature of this sport. I accepted it and found a new home.

Q: What have been your observations of the rivalry?

SE: It’€™s just the same ‘€“ I’€™m just on the other side now. [There were] definitely a lot of battles over the years and I’€™m a Patriot now and I’€™m happy to be a Patriot and I’€™m just ready to get started.

Q: What were some of your thoughts before you became a Patriot?

SE: [The] first thing that comes to mind is winning, you know, championships. I don’€™t have one and I want to get one before it’€™s all said and done. This is the best opportunity for me to do it and I joined and I’€™m ready to get in line with the rest of the guys and play my role.

Q: What kind of immediate impact do you think you’€™ll make as a Patriot?

SE: Immediately, just come in, my presence, be able to push the pocket as well with Albert [Haynesworth] and Vince [Wilfork] and a couple of guys on defense and just see what happens.

Q: It’€™s a pretty remarkable assemblage of talent. There’€™s a lot of good players, are you all going to be able to get out there and do some damage?

SE: I hope so, that’€™s the goal, going in each and every week — go out there and play our best every week go after the quarterback and cause a lot of havoc, hopefully we’€™re able to get that done.

Q: 3-4 or 4-3? Which do you feel has been better suited to your abilities?

SE: I’€™ve played all of them. So to me it doesn’€™t matter. I feel like I can play all positions ‘€“ I line up all positions so I’€™ve been doing it my whole career, it’€™s natural.

Q: What system do you feel most comfortable in?

SE: 4-3.

Q: Have they talked to you about what type of system you’€™ll be in here in New England?

SE: No, not really. I’€™m just learning the playbook. Vince [Wilfork] told me to learn the playbook and get out there and start practicing and he’€™ll figure all the rest out, just leave it to him.

Q: Rex Ryan said some very Rex-like things when he found out you signed here. He wished you health but didn’€™t wish you well. What are your thoughts?

SE: It’€™s Rex. I’€™d like to say I wish him well and I wish him all the success. It’€™s just how it is.

Q: Do you wish him well?

SE: I do. I have a lot of respect for the guy, obviously it seems like it’€™s not mutual, but I respect him.

Q: How much disappointment and bitterness do you feel toward the Jets? That has to feel just not right?

SE: Yeah, I mean, when you look at it that away from an emotional standpoint, yeah it was. But you have to look at it as a business as well. They have a choice of going after the guys they feel like they need or they want to surround their team around and I just wasn’€™t in their plan. Like I said, I’€™m a Patriot now, I’€™m part of this plan and I’€™m going to go out there and play my best.

Q: What did you use to think of the Patriots?

SE: After 11 years, it’€™s a team that was always the top of the division, still is today. Me playing against them for 11 years, of course you built up a little kind of hatred toward the Patriots over the 11 years. I understand what it takes to be champion and they’€™ve been doing it and I have been wanting to feel that feeling for however long so hopefully the time has come.

Read More: 2011 training camp, New England Patriots, New York Jets, nfl
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