Shaun Ellis wants to be ‘more explosive’ with Albert Haynesworth
|08.23.11 at 5:27 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Shaun Ellis has all the motivation in the world to want to play Saturday night against the Lions in the Patriots third preseason game.
Now, the 34-year-old veteran entering his 12th NFL season has the chance to play in his first game as a Patriot, and he could be teamed with Albert Haynesworth on Saturday night at Ford Field if everything goes as planned this week in practice and, of course, Bill Belichick is satisfied that both vets are ready for game reps.
Game reps. It’s the preseason lifeblood of defensive linemen who are trying to get their hand and foot techniques in working order for when the bullets start flying for real in the second weekend in September.
Ellis said Tuesday that his first practice this week in full pads [on Monday] went well, and he was joined by Haynesworth on Tuesday.
“It went pretty good,” Ellis said before Tuesday’s practice. “Just getting in the flow and getting my timing back. Just trying to improve every day and going through my routine, just fundamentals of football and just keep persistent with that on game week.”
What will be the key for Ellis and Haynesworth potentially playing together on the D-line? Chemistry.
“We have a lot of guys that’s play-makers and that are good at what they do. We just have to gel, gel together and we’ll see what happens,” Ellis said. “We just have to put work in together. I think once we get together and everyone is there, I think we’ll be OK.”
But what was most telling about his pre-practice session with reporters was what he said about what he hopes to bring on the defensive line. Ellis is hoping to bring the explosive attack Pats fans saw all too often when he was with the Jets, including the two first-half sacks of Tom Brady last January in the playoffs.
“Things I’ve been doing, just going out practicing, going through individual [drills], in the training room, weight lifting, just trying to become more explosive and those type of things that can carry me throughout a game,” said Ellis, who has 72 sacks and 13 forced fumbles in his previous 11 NFL seasons, all with the Jets.
All of those stats come – according to Ellis – from having the right technical approach game-to-game.
“I think it’s very important, timing, being able to roll off [blocks], get into contact, with the off-season and the lockout, I think the preseason is very important to us to get our timing, get our steps down and being able to communicate among one another with the defense.
“Your technique is what takes you. It keeps you protected. You’re able to process things a lot faster when you’re using proper technique so with us not being able to go through that, it’s just one of those things where we have to get extra reps in. Of course, playing in the games will speed that up.”
“I think in the NFL you build your fundamentals and techniques in the offseason program and then in the spring and training camp,” the coach said Tuesday. “I think as you get into the regular season it’s harder and harder to allocate the time to individual techniques because your preparations team-wide consume so much time with all the different schemes that you face weekly, and the smaller roster size and the limited amount of practice reps that you have relative to the number of things that can happen in the game. You spend more time in teamwork than you do in individual fundamental skills.
“So the time to build those is early in the season and you hope that you have a good base and that your overall playing ‘ that you can keep those skills sharp, and I think that’s pretty much the way it’s been in the NFL. I think that’s still the way it is. So the more time you’¦ and the better those skills are going into the season usually ‘ the longer you’re going to sustain them.”
So, Ellis’ priorities might change a little with the Patriots but not that much.
“There’s some refining but I’ve played in a lot of systems over the years,” he said. “For me, it’s just going out there and being ready when my number’s called.”
Will his number be called for the typically-important third preseason game this Saturday?
“I think each game is different,” he said. “Third game really measures how good of shape you are. Just being able to play through a little bit longer in games than you normally would have coming out of the half. Just getting your timing and communication and getting some live reps. I think it’s important.
“You always want to play in the game. I don’t think anybody is 100 percent. Everybody is dealing with something so it’s just about going out there, sucking it up and just trying to do what’s best for the team.”
Ellis, who has gotten to – but lost – the AFC title game on the road the last two seasons, then repeated what he’s said all training camp long about why he came to New England.
“It’s all about winning,” Ellis said. “I’ve been on the other side of this thing for a while and I’ve had a couple of chances at it and didn’t come through. I’m just still pushing, trying to get the ultimate goal.”