|Chris Long on working with Patriots: ‘I love the way we go about business’||05.27.16 at 10:09 am ET|
FOXBORO — Chris Long sounds like a guy who’s really ready to re-start his career in New England.
The 31-year-old defensive end signed a one-year, $2 million deal in New England in March after spending his first eight NFL seasons with the Rams.
Long finished his first week of OTAs with his new team on Thursday in the heat on the grass fields outside Gillette Stadium. And while this time of the offseason is usually centered around learning, the competitor in Long knows he definitely has something to prove to his new employer and teammates.
“I love the way we go about business,” Long said. “I love getting out here and competing. It was a competitive couple of days. I have lot to worry about to get to the point where I can do my job the way I want to do it here. There’s a lot of learning for me. I’m excited to learn and pick it up. You’ve just got to be a sponge.”
Long is trying to regain the form he showed earlier in his career with the Rams that made him one of the most effective defensive ends in football. In 2011, the Virginia product had a career-best 13 sacks. The next season he had 11.5. He’s played just 18 games in the last two seasons, racking up four sacks and 24 tackles.
“Great thing about that is that’s yesterday. It’s in the past,” Long added. “I’m out here with a great attitude every day, trying to get better and every day you try to re-prove yourself. As a player, you should come out every day trying to re-prove yourself and that’s all I try to do every day. New situation, old situation, whatever, it’s just one day at a time for me.
“I came in with no expectations either way. I’m just here to do my job and do what I’m asked to do. Whatever the coaches want me to do, wherever I line up, I didn’t have any expectations. I just want to come in here and compete and help this team. It was awesome. It was a great day to get to work. We had a great week. I’m excited to look at the film and see how we can get better after three days. It was really fun to be out here, playing football, and competing.”
Long was part of an offseason defensive re-boot for the Patriots, as he figures to slot in and help take the reps of Chandler Jones, who was traded to Arizona. He was out on the field this week, along with fellow veteran newcomers Terrance Knighton, Shea McClellin and E.J. Biggers.
|Iron Man: Rob Ninkovich looks to continue impressive run of durability at defensive end||05.20.16 at 1:46 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Rob Ninkovich isn’t an overly superstitious guy, but when he was asked Thursday about his consecutive games played streak, he shot a mock-serious look at a reporter.
“Let’s not talk about that,” said the 32-year-old defensive end, who is set to start his 11th year in the league — and eighth with the Patriots — this fall.
Sorry, Rob. It’s gotten to a point where it can’t be ignored anymore: The 6-foot-3, 251-pounder, who has been with the Patriots since 2009, has now racked up 81 straight regular-season starts with New England, second-best in the league among all defensive ends. And he’s played in a total of 102 straight regular-season games with the Patriots, third-best in the league at his position. (Julius Peppers is tops in both categories with 128 straight games played and 102 consecutive starts.)
He acknowledges he’s probably a little fresher than most defensive ends because he didn’t play much at all in his first three years in the league — he played in a total of eight games with the Dolphins and Saints before signing with the Patriots in 2009. That’s why he said he subtracts three years from his career.
But the streak remains a point of pride.
“I like knowing that I can continue to contribute and help the team,” said Ninkovich, who has 42 career sacks, including 14.5 the last two years. “I do understand the business aspect of the game, so that’s exactly what I have to do: I have to help the team, contribute to win, and if I can continue to do that I’ll stay on the field.
“Other than that, I think that there’s a little bit of luck involved with that, because the first three years I couldn’t stay on the field,” he said of the streak. “Let’s just continue to work hard. I feel really good right now and just look forward to year 11.”
Ninkovich has been around long enough to know he’s not surprised when there’s roster movement. That includes the franchise decision to ship fellow pass-rushing defensive end Chandler Jones off to Arizona for offensive lineman Jonathan Cooper and a draft pick. Ninkovich and Jones had been teammates for four seasons, and on Thursday, Ninkovich called Jones “a really good football player.” But he seems enthused about the arrival of veteran free agent Chris Long.
“Chris is a great guy. He’s excited to be here and to just jump into the Patriot way. I know previous location was tough for him, so I just said to him, ‘Hey man, you come here and get to work and we’ll start winning football games.’
“Since then we’ve kind of hit it off. He’s a great guy,” added Ninkovich. “He’s definitely been great so far. It’s fun when you can learn from other guys, other pros. He’s been doing it a long time as well and he’s happy to be here so we’re happy to have him.”
|Cardinals coach Bruce Arians: Patriots initiated Chandler Jones trade||03.23.16 at 11:47 am ET|
Although it doesn’t come as much of a surprise, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said Wednesday the Patriots were the ones who started the talks for the Chandler Jones trade.
Jones was traded to Arizona for guard Jonathan Cooper and the Cardinals’ second-round pick in next months draft. With the Patriots having a number of younger players — including Jones — with their rookie contracts expiring at the end of next season, it would be nearly impossible for the Patriots to sign them all.
“I was shocked,” Arians told reporters at the NFC coaches breakfast in Florida on Wednesday morning. “[General manager] Steve Keim did an unbelievable job working with them and finding the right fit in the trade. We went into the offseason wanting to improve our pass rush. Free agency wasn’t what we were looking at as far as dollars for certain guys. That cured us for a long time. They got something they needed. We got something we needed. I think it was a great trade for both sides.”
“I think Steve got a call, and they gradually started talking and things built and built and built,” he added.
Jones has totaled 36 sacks in his four years in the league, including a career-high 12.5 last season. Arians is excited to see what Jones can do for the Arizona defense, which was badly in need of a pass rusher.
“You don’t get 26-year-old pass-rushers like him very often … I think it could be pretty dynamic,” Arians said. “We went into the offseason wanting to improve our pass rush, and free agency wasn’t what we were looking at in terms of dollars for guys. [The trade] cured us for a long time.”
As for Jones’ incident before the playoffs with synthetic marijuana, he doesn’t see it being an issue.
“Knowing the family and knowing what he did and [how] he owned up to it, it wasn’t even a thought for me,” Arians said. “I’ve seen 1,000 times worse than that in my years in this league. He’s a really good kid from a good family.”
|Jonathan Kraft defends Tom Brady’s negative perception following Deflategate: ‘He doesn’t deserve it’||03.22.16 at 8:24 pm ET|
It isn’t just the loss of the two draft picks that the Kraft family is upset with Roger Goodell about following Deflategate.
They also also upset with the damage it has caused to the perception of quarterback Tom Brady.
Patriots president Jonathan Kraft went into detail on that with CSNNE.com’s Tom E. Curran on Tuesday’s episode of Quick Slants from the NFL owners meetings in Florida.
“Tom Brady is the poster child for everything that is right,” Kraft said to Curran. “Not just with the NFL, but with professional sports in general and why we wouldn’t be looking to be putting somebody like him on a platform and effectively showcase him as everything that is great about a professional athlete. Both in terms of his work ethic, his discipline on the field, how he is as a father, as a husband and what he does in the community. He is everything that is great about the NFL and professional sports and to see what has happened to him, at least for me personally, as somebody is fortunate enough to know him and have him as a friend, that is probably even more disheartening to me because he doesn’t deserve it.
“And you throw the first-round pick into it, it gets very frustrating and very angry and disappointing, but at some point you have to realize, you have to turn the energy and attention towards things that will be productive. The league meetings start really the 2016 season and for us, we have to go out and have a very successful year.”
Deflategate aside, Kraft said he’s excited to get back to playing games on the field. He also discussed the recent offseason acquisitions and also hinted why the Patriots traded Chandler Jones.
While Bill Belichick didn’t have much to say about Chandler Jones following his trade to the Cardinals, the rest of the AFC East seems glad to get him out of the division.
In his four years in the league, Jones has totaled 36 sacks, including a career-high 12.5 this past season.
“That was nice,” Bills coach Rex Ryan told reporters at the annual AFC coaches breakfast in Florida Tuesday morning.
Jets coach Todd Bowles said he was happy to not have to face Jones anymore and added, if Tom Brady gets traded “you can have my truck.”
As for Belichick’s thoughts on the trade, like most of his answers Tuesday morning, he didn’t have much to say.
“Chandler was a good player for us,” he said.
The Patriots acquired guard Jonathan Cooper and also a second-round pick in exchange for Jones last week.
For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.
|Ex-Patriots DL Jarvis Green talks Patriots offseason, Chandler Jones trade and what they think of Deflategate back in Louisiana||03.20.16 at 12:52 pm ET|
Former Patriots defensive lineman Jarvis Green joined “NFL Sunday” this weekend and talked to Chris Price and Butch Stearns about the state of the New England defense, the Chandler Jones trade, why some veteran free agents succeed in Foxboro, and some don’t and some areas of need that still need to be addressed for the franchise going forward. Green also talked about his current business ventures, why some players have issues transitioning out the game and what sort of grief he gets back in his home state of Louisiana when it comes to Deflategate and Spygate.
“I got to tell you, when I’m down here in New Orleans and people figure out that I’m in the room, the first thing I hear is about Deflategate, Spygate. I walk around and I crack jokes about it,” said Green, who for the Patriots from 2002-2008. “People say we’re cheaters. I get it down here in the Deep South all the time. When people know its me. I say, ‘Hey, man. They still have to go out there and play. It’s 11-on-11. People are going to hit you in the mouth. And you have to make a play.’
“We earned those games. People can say what they want about the time I was there with the New England Patriots, but everywhere you go, we are not the most-liked team in America. I’ll put it like that,” he added. “I’m very defensive about my club who I played eight years for. We won those games and we beat everybody down.”
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|Jonathan Cooper out to show his ‘nasty’ side with Dante Scarnecchia, Patriots O-Line||03.17.16 at 4:01 pm ET|
Jonathan Cooper is out to prove he is not just a thinking man’s offensive lineman – he’s a nasty one, too.
The 6-foot-2, 312-pounder came into the NFL with high expectations as a first-round (seventh overall) selection of the Arizona Cardinals in 2013 out of North Carolina.
A broken leg in his rookie year slowed his development but there was something else slowing his growth, at least in the eyes of some NFL talent evaluators. He lacked a nasty side that all interior offensive linemen need to cope in the trenches.
“I do have that. It’s one of those things that you learn when you’re bigger than everybody when you’re younger, that you should be gentle, be nice,” Cooper said in a conference call Thursday. “It’s one of those things that you kind of have to learn that it’s nothing personal, it’s just business. So when you finish somebody at the whistle, at the end of a play, it’s nothing personal. It’s in the rule books. It’s just those little things that show that ‘he’s nasty, you don’t really want to mess with him,’ and I do feel like I have that.”
Helping to foster and channel that nastiness will be returning offensive line guru Dante Scarnecchia.
“I haven’t had too much interaction with him prior to this point,” Cooper said of his 68-year-old line coach. “But what I have heard is nothing but good things from him, even going in training today with other players, they say he’s such a great coach and he’s old school and he’ll get on you a little bit but guys love him, and you won’t have a better teacher.”
Cooper is a self-professed student of the game, taking pride in his classroom and thinking man’s approach to the trenches.
“As a player, I’d my strengths are literally strength. It’s one of my biggest strong points, as well as being a cerebral player and working to become more cerebral,” he said. “Working with the Cardinals, learning the playbook, got it down and now I’m looking to really become even more [cerebral], learning different things that I may not necessarily need to get my job done but it’ll make my life easier in the long run, and just become a better professional. Speed and agility are also strong points that I have, and it’s just a fact of putting it all on display on the field.”
After missing his entire rookie season in 2013 due to the broken leg, Cooper appeared in 10 games with two starts at left guard in 2014.
“It was definitely a learning experience,” Cooper said of the broken leg. “I’m a firm believer that God has a perfect plan for everybody. It happened and now I’m here. It’s one of those things it happened and it was kind of an unfortunate [thing]. But, now I’m here with the Patriots and have a great opportunity to kind of almost transcend that. It’s almost like redemption, kind of turning it all around.”
Last season, Cooper played in 14 games with nine starts at right guard. He was a reserve in both of the Arizona postseason games. Cooper started a school record of 48 games for North Carolina and was a three-time All-ACC selection and earned All-America honors as a senior.
Now a new chapter on Jonathan Cooper’s career begins thanks to the trade of Chandler Jones to the Cardinals.
“My reaction is that I’m excited,” Cooper said. “I’m coming into a great organization, a great situation and I’m just super-excited about the opportunity to play and learn so much from such a great coaching staff. I’m really excited just to take advantage of this opportunity.”
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