Rookie Chandler Jones delivers another impressive performance
|08.01.12 at 10:17 pm ET|
FOXBORO — After spending most of the first week of training camp out of the spotlight, Chandler Jones hit the big stage on Wednesday night.
Granted, it was a scrimmage under the lights for season-ticket holders. But his first appearance on the FieldTurf at Gillette Stadium had the feel of a debut performance, as the rookie defensive end out of Syracuse delivered another impressive effort, building on a very good first week of training camp.
Jones, who was taken 21st overall this spring by the Patriots, continues to show up frequently, particularly in one-on-one sessions while working on the edge against opposing tackles. In individual matchups on Wednesday, he won battles against Nate Solder and Darrion Weems, using an array of moves to get around the corner. At 6-foot-5 and 260 pounds, he’s longer and leaner than a lot of elite pass rushers, but he has been able to get an edge by using that size as leverage.
‘I’m just treating every day like it was game day. Just taking it a day at a time, and then, I take those days and try and string them together,’ he said after Wednesday’s session, one that left fans chanting his name as he walked off the field.
‘If I’m not walking off the field exhausted, I’m not doing my job. Right now, I’m barely breathing, so like I said — every day is game day. I’m waiting for tomorrow.’
Wednesday’s practice comes on the heels of a series of impressive performances through the first week of camp. Jones has shown excellent speed coming off the edge, and if he continues to trend upward, it’s clear that the rookie will make an impact in his first season in the NFL.
Coming out of college, there were some questions about his frame, particularly whether or not he weighed enough to generate the necessary power off the edge in the NFL. He said he has gained some weight, but still understands not everyone is going to be on board with the idea of someone with his body type being an elite pass rusher.
‘No matter what I do, people are going to question my ability,’ he said after Wednesday night’s practice. ‘If you don’t believe in yourself, who will? For the people who are saying ‘You’re not ready’ or ‘You’re not strong enough,’ there’s always going to be critics. That’s what they do.
‘Each day is a step. It’s a phase,’ he said. ‘You can’t learn everything at once. You learn some things and then, you learn some others. You can’t learn it all at once. You can’t just jump into it. I’m excited to learn the whole playbook, and we’ll see what goes from there.’
The early returns are in on Jones, and are mostly positive. But can he sustain those efforts when the games begin? And more importantly, can he be one of the individuals who helps replace the 20 sacks the Patriots lost in the offseason with the departure of Andre Carter and Mark Anderson?
‘I wasn’t on the team last year, and I really don’t know anything about last year’s team. I know I’m on the team this year, and my job is to help the defense. And that’s what I’m going to do,’ he said. ‘Whatever coach Bill Belichick says — ‘Chandler, stand up,’ I’m going to stand up. If he says, ‘Chandler, get in a three-point stance,’ I’m going to get in a three-point stance.’