New England Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones showcased progression versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 2 of the preseason. (Photo: NFL Preseason Live)
NEPD Staff Writer: Oliver Thomas
The New England Patriots’ defense could boom in 2013. And if it does, it will be because second-year defensive end Chandler Jones booms as well.
In 2012, the first-round draft pick amassed six sacks and three forced fumbles over the first eight games. He flashed explosion off the line. He swung around the blind side to make plays. He looked the part of a 6’6”, 260-pound pass-rusher. But when an ankle injury hampered his health in the second half of his rookie campaign, his overall effectiveness was hampered, too.
Yet now, entering year two of his development, the Syracuse Orangeman is readying himself for the next step. In an interview with Patriots Football Weekly in May, Jones acknowledged the responsibility that comes along with his sophomore season in Foxborough, Mass:
“I feel like you can go two different ways in your career with year two,” said Jones. “I feel like this is the year that establishes you as a player.”
Vying for establishment, Jones added 10 pounds of muscle over the offseason. He is more refined in his hand and arm movements, following technique sessions with a boxing trainer. He’s doing the little things in the hopes of making a big difference.
But can the 23-year-old’s hard work off the field translate to further success on the field?
In the Aug. 16 preseason tilt versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it certainly did. (more…)