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Why Patriots like what they’ve seen so far from Michael Buchanan

09.17.13 at 3:56 pm ET

Rookie defensive end Michael Buchanan played just 15 of 71 snaps in his second NFL game last Thursday night for the Patriots. But those 15 snaps were not insignificant.

He came in as a sub-rusher on passing situations and several times got through to apply pressure in the face of Geno Smith. Twice, he and Chandler Jones met at the quarterback, putting a big-time hurt on the Jets quarterback. In those 15 snaps, Buchanan, a seventh-round pick this year out of Illinois, finished with one tackle, one sack, one tackle for a loss and two quarterback hits.

His impact was so significant that it allowed the Patriots to stunt along the defensive line and move Jones to an interior line position, giving the Patriots more athleticism on their defensive front.

“I think it’€™s like everybody that comes in day one in the spring,” Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia said during a conference call Tuesday. “No matter how they arrive here, it’€™s obviously just trying to go out and prove that they can earn a position on the roster and contribute somehow to the defense, and certainly Michael’€™s done a good job since he’€™s been here of improving and trying to the learn the game and trying to get better.

“Certainly with everybody that is on the roster, we prepare each week to play and to get ready to go out and do our job that weekend. He’€™s been able to handle that in his capacity and, like I said, do a real good job to improve from his fundamental techniques to everything that we’€™re asking him to do as a defensive end and just try to get better. So, [he’€™s] certainly someone that came in and showed us different things throughout the spring and training camp that we thought, ‘€˜He’€™d be able to help us win.’€™”

Buchanan, considered a solid pass rusher and tackler, stands 6-feet-6 but he slipped because he is a bit undersized at 240 pounds coming out of college. But the Patriots loved what they saw in the potential from this speed rusher, especially his long arms and reach.

“I’€™d say every player obviously has his own physical traits that help him compete in different levels,” Patricia said. “Certainly Michael is a very long guy, he has good leverage with his arms and his length. Like I said, if he can keep working to improve to be able to use that, then he’€™ll certainly get better. But I think it’€™s across the board.”

Buchanan played at Illinois with Texans linebacker Whitney Mercilus.

“Everyone’€™s trying to take their skill sets that they have and try to work them and fine-tune their craft and just try to improve with the fundamentals. That’€™s really where we get to start is with the fundamentals and just trying to get better at the basic techniques we’€™re asking him to do. But certainly Mike is a long guy, obviously, which helps you when you’€™re out there on the edge against those offensive tackles that are also usually pretty long, long-armed guys, tall guys.”

Here’s the rest of Matt Patricia’s conference call from Tuesday.

Q: It seems like Vincent Jackson has the ability to stretch the field vertically, but he gets a lot of yards after the catch too on maybe some of the more intermediate or underneath stuff. Does that make him unique in this league, or are there several others who fit that mold?

MP: I mean, obviously Vincent Jackson is a great wide receiver in the NFL. He has a tremendous combination of size, speed, ability, like you said, the run after the catch. He does a good job of breaking tackles, whether it’€™s a stiff arm or just being able to run through arm tackles. He does a good job of getting off the ball versus press coverage, and then just does a great job in his routes understanding the coverage that is being played against him, finding the open zone if it’€™s zone, working away from leverage if it’€™s man, being able to take the top off the defense in the vertical pass game. So certainly he has a phenomenal skill set for his position, and it’€™s his intangibles that make him really an outstanding player.

Q: The Buccaneers have a chance to have both their guards together for the first time in Davin Joseph and Carl Nicks. If that happens, what challenges do those two present? They almost built that line around them in terms of going out to get Nicks, and we know Joseph was a high draft pick.

MP: Certainly across the board, their offensive line has done a really good job both in the run and the pass game. Obviously Nicks and Joseph are two very good, very big offensive lineman with [center Jeremy] Zuttah in between them. Three smart players that do a good job in recognizing defenses and, like I said, run blocking and getting some good movement at the line of scrimmage. Obviously [Gabe] Carimi has gone in and done a good job in there in being able to hold the fort. I think obviously they’€™ve felt comfortable with what they’€™ve had in the front, but certainly Nicks is a great player that would obviously be able to step in and continue doing all the things that they’€™re doing well right now. Like I said, just doing a great job of handling the run game along with the pass protection and just being a big offensive line, big front up inside.

Q: How do you feel about how the defensive line has performed through two games, and with the amount that they’€™ve played do you have to worry about keeping them fresh as the season goes along?

MP: I think like everybody on defense, we’€™re obviously working hard to get better every week, and that’€™s something we’€™re trying to see on film and obviously practice that way. Certainly the defensive line is just like everybody else where we’€™re trying to improve week to week, and there are definitely some positives there that we’€™ve seen and hopefully we can keep improving as we go forward. Certainly, we’€™re obviously just playing each game as the game itself and handling whatever comes that game in particular individually on its own. We’€™re just trying to go out and improve every week and do whatever we can to win every week, and that’€™s really our focus.

Read More: Michael Buchanan, New England Patriots, nfl, University of Illinois



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