|Chandler Jones on MFB: ‘There’s always room for improvement’||08.18.14 at 1:49 pm ET|
Defensive end Chandler Jones joined the Middays with MFB crew on Monday as the Patriots head into the second half of the preseason. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
The first-string defense has played well in the preseason, but Jones knows the squad has a long way to go.
“We can always do better,” Jones said. “Honestly, I felt like there’s always room for improvement. There’s no perfect football team. . . . There always areas where we can get better, and that goes for everyone.”
Added Jones: “Week in and week out we try to find weakness in our defense and get better. Every good defense, you don’t want any weaknesses at all.”
The officials have been calling games tight in the preseason. One of the points of emphasis is to look for illegal hands to the face from lineman.
“Being a pass-rusher in this league, you don’t want to run off the ball thinking about, ‘Oh my God, I don’t want to get my hands in this guy’s face.’ That should be the last thing that should be on your mind. First, your assignment, your lineman, getting off the ball and doing your job. . . .
“As a pass-rusher you just want to go out there and do whatever you can to get to the quarterback. Running off the ball, thinking about that, I haven’t really thought about it too much, because a lot of my moves are a lot of counter moves, so I don’t really start with slapping any guy’s face.”
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|Chandler Jones ‘enjoying’ showing off his versatility||08.13.14 at 7:07 pm ET|
FOXBORO — With any Bill Belichick-coached team, there are always a number of moving parts and players in new positions. Training camp is as good of a time as any to give these a look.
Chandler Jones — who usually plays defensive end in a three-point stance — acknowledged Wednesday he has been dropping back into pass coverage on a few occasions. It’s something the third-year player relishes.
“I enjoy it. I really enjoy it — it shows a little bit of versatility,” Jones said after the second joint practice with the Eagles. “It all goes back to whatever Coach Belichick tells me to play, that’s where I am going to play.”
Having done it on a few instances last season and in college at Syracuse as well as in high school, the 6-foot-5, 265-pounder says there isn’t much difference between defensive end and the hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker position — just how you line up.
“Believe it or not, it’s very similar — that hybrid outside linebacker/defensive end position — it’s very similar. I feel like we’re doing the same exact thing, it may be difference stances to start off with,” said Jones.
Jones finished last season with 11.5 sacks after totaling six in his rookie campaign in 2012. Now that the Patriots are working with a full complement of defenders after an injury plagued 2013 season, it gives Belichick and Co. a chance to shift some players around to showcase their versatility.
With the team-first and winning attitude — moving around on the field is just an effort to do whatever it takes to win.
“We have one goal and that is to win the Super Bowl so wherever they ask you to play — if you want to win — that’s what you have to do for the team,” said cornerback Logan Ryan.
|Julian Edelman hits YouTube with ‘Burgertyme’||05.29.14 at 12:01 pm ET|
Cross “Between Two Ferns” with Zach Galifianakis with a dose of life in the NFL, and you’ve got Julian Edelman‘s new YouTube show, “Burgertyme.” Here’s the initial episode, with special guest star Chandler Jones.
|Heading into his third season, DE Chandler Jones not willing to call himself a veteran quite yet||05.21.14 at 8:00 am ET|
FOXBORO — Over the dozen years, there’s been a very clear pecking order when it comes to the Patriots defensive line.
More often than not, the position has been stocked with an intriguing combination of feisty youngsters in the nascent stages of their NFL careers and cagey vets who are on the back nine.
There have been a few exceptions — Vince Wilfork and Richard Seymour were two defensive linemen who were part of the Patriots while in their late-20s, while Rob Ninkovich has played both linebacker and defensive linemen as a similarly aged twentysomething.
But for the most part, it’s been young guys, many of whom have been mentored by veterans. This season, that group includes Wilfork, Tommy Kelly, Will Smith and Ninkovich among the vets, all of whom are 30 or older. Meanwhile, the youngsters include rookie Dominique Easley, as well as Chris Jones, Joe Vellano and Sealver Siliga, all of whom are heading into their second season.
One guy who is kind of caught in between is defensive end Chandler Jones. The 24-year-old Syracuse product is preparing for his third season in the NFL, and following a season where he finished with 11.5 sacks — fourth-most in team history — he figures to play a sizable role in New England’s defensive game plan in 2014.
After two full years in the system, he holds seniority on most of the defensive linemen. But right now, the 6-foot-5, 265-pound Jones wants no part of being a veteran, at least not yet.
“I wouldn’t call myself a vet yet. Not yet,” Jones said Tuesday during a break from offseason workouts at Gillette Stadium. “We still have Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly and Will Smith. We still have a lot of vets on that defensive line. I’m still a young guy, I’d say.
“I always try to lead – especially in drills. I try to lead from example. I’m not a huge vocal leader. That’s what the older guys are for, but I always try to do my best so the guys next to me or the guy behind me will say, ‘Hey, he’s going 100 percent so let me go too.’”
Despite the fact that he shuns the veterans’ label, it doesn’t mean Jones is above offering advice to youngsters like first-round pick Easley.
“I just got done speaking with Easley — he’s doing good. He looks good,” Jones said. “He looks like a great player. I’ve been watching his highlights and I’ve been talking to him. I’m excited.
“It is early. The game is a lot different playing in the NCAA than the NFL. But I’ve definitely watched highlights and am very impressed with his game. Very impressed,” he added. “I saw he was getting a lot of penetration when I was watching his highlights, and that’s definitely a key in the offensive line.”
Here are a few more highlights of Jones’ Tuesday afternoon Q&A with the media:
Read the rest of this entry »
|What does history tell us about Patriots and pre-draft contact with elite prospects?||04.16.14 at 3:14 pm ET|
With the pre-draft process longer now than it’s been in years past, there’s more time for speculation, and official visits, workouts and attendance at Pro Days are all ways fans and the media try and gauge a team’s interest in a prospect. Some of the pre-draft work can be a smokescreen, some of it can be done for intel down the road and some of can be for practical scouting purposes. With that in mind, here’s a look at the pre-draft connections the Patriots have made with some of their top draft picks over the last few years.
Linebacker Jamie Collins (taken with New England’s first pick in 2013, a second-round selection at No. 52 overall): Bill Belichick flew South to work out Collins before the draft, but the linebacker later indicated that he did not have much pre-draft contact with New England when compared to other teams.
Defensive end Chandler Jones (first-round pick 2012, 21st overall): Jones recalled a conversation with the Patriots at the combine in Indy the year he was drafted. “I talked to the Patriots — I talked with them at the combine,” he said. “That was the most formal thing we did. That’s basically it — we talked at the combine.”
Linebacker Dont’a Hightower (first-round pick 2012, 25th overall): He didn’t work out for Patriots, but he said he “had a small (idea)” the Patriots were interested. “I met with those guys at the combine and I met them at one of the Pro Days,” Hightower recalled, “so I knew that they were kind of interested in some of the defensive players that we had at Alabama.”
Tackle Nate Solder (first-round pick 2011, 17th overall): Solder had what he called “fairly limited contact” with the Patriots throughout the pre-draft process. He met with offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia the Monday before the draft in Colorado, but also had a scheduled visit to Foxboro cancelled at the last minute. “I don’t know exactly what happened,” Solder later explained. “I was scheduled to visit (but) the minute before I left it was cancelled. That’s all I know.”
Defensive back Devin McCourty (first-round pick 2010, 27th overall): McCourty met with Belichick prior to the draft, where the two had a film session on campus at Rutgers. “Bill Belichick had come to my school for a coaches’ clinic, and he was going to fly right out after the clinic to see his son play in a lacrosse game,” McCourty recalled. “But we had an hour, we watched some film and we spoke for a little while. We had a real generic conversation, but he showed me some things on film, just watching and helping me out as far as being a player.”
Linebacker Jerod Mayo (first-round pick, 2008, 10th overall): Mayo had 11 visits with teams during the pre-draft process, and remembers his visit to Foxboro fondly. “I had a great visit when I came down there,” he said. “The coaches and I sat down and talked football for a long time. Like I said, I just had a great visit and I felt like we clicked.”
|At this point in offseason, where are Patriots personnel priorities?||04.04.14 at 9:55 pm ET|
With the offseason now one-third of the way done — and most of free agency now complete — the Patriots still have to address a few specific areas of need as part of the team-building process. Here’s a look at four personnel questions that have to be dealt with between now and the start of training camp.
Backup linebacker: Brandon Spikes and Dane Fletcher departed as free agents this offseason, with Spikes heading to Buffalo and Fletcher signing with Tampa Bay. Neither were starters, but over the last two seasons, both were called upon to play significant snaps for the Patriots. As a result, New England is a little thin when it comes to their linebacker depth. Currently on the roster, the Patriots have a few possibilities when it comes to backing up the expected starting trio of Jerod Mayo, Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins, including Steve Beauharnais, who just finished his rookie season. But their pursuit of veteran free agent Wesley Woodyard was likely a sign they believe they need more help when it comes to depth at the spot.
Strong safety: Steve Gregory was cut loose earlier this offseason, and Adrian Wilson was released on Friday. And while the Patriots did bring back Patrick Chung on Thursday, there’s some uncertainty as to what New England plans on doing at the position. Two things to remember: one, the Patriots like their defensive backs to be versatile, and so shuffling DBs from one spot to another wouldn’t be a surprise. And two, on that same vein, there are some possibilities on the roster, including Duron Harmon and Logan Ryan, the latter of whom has been the subject of much speculation this offseason when it comes to a possible move to free safety. In addition, there’s Tavon Wilson, who slid down the depth chart in 2013 to more of a special teams role, one that’s also occupied by fellow safeties Kanorris Davis and Nate Ebner. (And there’s always the possibility that Gregory could return on a reworked deal — he said this week despite the fact that he was cut by New England, “it would definitely be a place I would love to go back to.”) Regardless of whether or not New England decides to address the position in the draft, right now, it’s shaping up to be one of the more intriguing camp battles this spring and summer.
Situational pass rusher: The Patriots were believed to be at least partially in the mix for Jared Allen in free agency before he signed with the Bears, and while New England does currently have youngsters Jake Bequette and Michael Buchanan on the roster as backup defensive ends, it’s a fair dropoff at this point from the starting duo of Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich. In terms of free agents who could still be on the market, Will Smith remains a possibility, but his recent injury woes leave him questionable at this stage of his career. When it comes to other in-house possibilities, Andre Carter could return for at least part of the season if New England struggles to find help — he sure sounds open to the possibility of returning. In addition, Armond Armstead could also be in the mix as an interior pass rushing presence at some point if he ever does get healthy. It’s also expected that if veteran Tommy Kelly can stay on the field, he’ll offer some support as another interior pass rushing presence in 2014.
Depth at tight end and running back: While New England appears to be set when it comes to starters at the two positions, it could really use some depth at both spots, and both will likely be addressed in some form or fashion come the second and/or third day of the draft. Despite the fact the Patriots might be more inclined to move away from the two-tight end sets they ran over the last few seasons, another tight end to compliment Rob Gronkowski could be had in this draft, especially given the fact that this year appears to be a pretty good one for tight ends. In addition, the fact that the Patriots made a serious play for veteran free agent running back Maurice Jones-Drew could be taken as a sign they feel like they need someone to replace LeGarrette Blount in the backfield.
|Report: Veteran defensive end Will Smith visiting with Patriots||04.01.14 at 2:55 pm ET|
The Patriots are hosting defensive end Will Smith on a free agent visit, according to ESPN.
The 32-year-old veteran, who was cut loose as part of the great New Orleans salary purge of 2014, has 67.5 career sacks, but has struggled over the last few seasons, and is coming off a torn ACL that left him sidelined for the 2013 season.
New England is likely be in the market for a low-cost answer at defensive end/situational pass rusher behind starters Rob Ninkovich and Chandler Jones — youngsters Michael Buchanan and Jake Bequette have been underwhelming to this point in their careers, while 34-year-old veteran Andre Carter is an unrestricted free agent.
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