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Chandler Jones: ‘I feel like my pass rush could be better’

FOXBORO — Defensive end Chandler Jones has seen a drop-off in his numbers over the last few weeks — after five sacks in his first six games, he’€™s had one in his last three. And while the rookie has certainly drawn the attention of opposing offensive coordinators, he said it’€™s not because of the rookie wall.

‘€œPersonally, I feel like my pass rush could be better, as an individual,’€ Jones said after practice on Friday. ‘€œThat’€™s just something I have to work on, to get better at my pass rush.’€

Asked if he’€™s seeing more double teams, Jones was noncommittal.

‘€œI just go out there and play football,’€ he said. ‘€œIf you’€™ve been a dominant pass rusher, or if you’€™ve been pretty successful, if I was an offensive coordinator, I would double-team someone who’€™s a good pass rusher. But yeah, I just go out there and play football.’€

Jones faces a new challenge on Sunday as he goes up against the Colts offense and Indy left tackle Anthony Castonzo. The former Boston College [1] offensive lineman is in charge of protecting the blind side of rookie quarterback Andrew Luck [2], and Jones knows it’ll be a difficult test.

‘€œAnthony Castonzo is a good player. He’€™s tall, he’€™s athletic. He’€™s long. You just have to get to him. You can’€™t have Andrew Luck sitting back there and picking us apart. We have to pressure him,’€ Jones said. ‘€œYou can’€™t let [Luck] sit in the pocket being comfortable. I feel like he’€™s doing a phenomenal job over in Indy. It’€™s our job — me, as a defensive end — to make him uncomfortable back there.’€

Patriots coach Bill Belichick [3] said this week that Luck is more mobile and more athletic than people think, which presents a new challenge for Jones and the rest of the New England pass rush.

‘€œHe’€™s a big body quarterback — I’€™ve seen him shed a few guys off,’€ Jones said of Luck. ‘€œIf you get him, you have to get him down and you can’€™t let him throw the ball.’€

One teammate who should be able to offer some support is fellow defensive end Rob Ninkovich [4]. Jones is quick to praise Ninkovich — the two have combined to form the nucleus of New England pass rush, as they have combined for 17 of the teams’€™ 34 quarterback hits and 12 of the 20 sacks. Jones calls Ninkovich ‘€œa great leader and a great helper as well.’€

‘€œI’€™ve learned a lot from Rob. Every single day, I’€™m learning something,’€ said Jones, who has six sacks and nine quarterback hits over the first nine games. ‘€œIf we’€™re watching film, if he sees me doing something wrong or taking the wrong step, he’€™s like, ‘€˜Hey Chandler, try doing this with that.’€™ If you have someone like that in your room, it’€™s just a great aspect to have.’€