Posts Tagged ‘Rob Ninkovich’

Will Smith Could Bring Sub-Package Power to Patriots Defense

Monday, June 16th, 2014

After missing the 2013 season with a torn ACL, veteran pass-rusher Will Smith is vying to return to form in a new uniform. (USA Today Sports Images)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

An ACL tear during the 2013 preseason brought Will Smith’s 10-year run with the New Orleans Saints to an unceremonious end. But the former Pro Bowl pass-rusher is looking to start anew with the New England Patriots in 2014.

He just may not start.

It’s an understandable reality for the 32-year-old, released by New Orleans in early February. Despite the 120 starts and 139 regular-season contests under his belt, expectations for the five-time defensive captain are as tempered as the one-year, $855,000 contract he signed in May.

A stark contrast from the $3 million in base salary he was due in 2013, Smith is no longer the player who amassed 33.5 sacks over his first four NFL campaigns. He is no longer the player who forged through left tackles for 13 sacks along the way to a Super Bowl victory in 2009.

Yet for head coach Bill Belichick, defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and Patriots defensive front, what Smith currently is could be enough to make a difference.

Situated behind defensive ends Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, and their Pro Football Focus-leading 2,256 snaps in 2013, the 2004 first-round pick has an opportunity to excel under a lesser capacity than the one he’s accustomed to. He has an opportunity to earn a title unlike the one’s he’s earned before.

Sub-package rusher. (more…)


58 Defensive Line Combinations: A 2013 Patriots Personnel Study

Friday, June 6th, 2014

The defensive line of the 2013 Patriots shifted in waves. Its components changed by the week, and in some cases, by the snap. (NFL Game Rewind)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

The 2013 New England Patriots defensive line was one of adaptation.

It was one of many faces and many alignments. And it was one composed of 15 players, forged by attrition.

For the collection of former draft picks and undrafted free agents, waiver claims and veteran free agents, it was about being greater than the sum of their parts. For head coach Bill Belichick, defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and position coach Patrick Graham, on the other hand, it was about being interchangeable.

From Week 1 through Week 17, the New England’s defensive line was just that. But its identity remained unknown. There was no true first-team. There was no true base defense.

Its contributors and alignments shifted with each opponent, with each snap. (more…)


Not All Is Lost: Revisiting Patriots’ Preseason Week 3 Loss to Lions

Monday, August 26th, 2013

The Patriots’ one-sided loss to the Lions was not without memorable glimpses. (Photo: USA Today Sports Images)

NEPD Staff Writer: Oliver Thomas

Preseason or regular season, losing by 31 points is unacceptable for an NFL team. And following the Aug. 22 shellacking by way of the Detroit Lions, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick reinforced that notion.

“We just have to get back to work and do better than that in every area of the game,” said Belichick in a next-day conference call. “I don’t think there’s anything different than what the picture was last night. There were a few good individual plays here and there but overall just, we can’t play like that and expect to do well against a good team.”

The Patriots were beaten in all three phases of the game during the 40-9 defeat last Thursday night. New England’s offense turned the ball over four times and went 5-for-16 on third- and fourth-down opportunities. The offensive line was beat physically and mentally, allowing two quarterback sacks, 15 hurries and an abysmal 68 rushing yards. And the defense – which was put in a tough spot early – broke down once the second- and third-teamers filtered in, conceding 24 second-half points.

The squad’s effort was certainly not enough, but not all was lost in the end result. (more…)


2012 New England Patriots: Versatility Helps Build Depth

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

Rob Ninkovich’s ability to play at a starting level at two positions will help the Patriots depth immensely. (Photo: US Presswire)

NEPD Editor: Doug Kyed

If there’s one thing Bill Belichick has proven over the years, it’s that if you aren’t going to be a star on the New England Patriots, you better damn be versatile.

Last year, Belichick may have gone over the edge with his love for versatility lining Julian Edelman up at cornerback, Matthew Slater at safety, Logan Mankins at left tackle, Nate Solder at tight end and more.

This year, the Patriots have acquired even more versatile players, and I’ll try to break down all of the positions they can play here. I avoided using players whose versatility is limited to non-return special teams, and also players who just play multiple versions of the same position.

(more…)


Patriots Training Camp: 15 Things that Stood out on Sunday

Sunday, July 29th, 2012
Training Camp Rob Gronkowski

Rob Gronkowski has had better days. (Photo: US Presswire)

NEPD Staff Contributor

In what was a little bit of a surprise, the Patriots were back in full pads for the second straight day. With a day off coming on Monday, Coach Belichick decided to put his players through the most physical practice to date.

Who was out on the field and what stood out on Sunday? Continue reading to see what went down at Gillette on Sunday.

(more…)


2012 Training Camp Preview: Linebackers

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

Can Brandon Spike stay healthy for an entire season?

NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko

Training camp starts on Thursday and we begin to wind down our positional previews by taking a look at the linebackers on the current roster.

The Patriots have assembled a talented and young linebacker unit, mainly using high draft picks on the position. With roster spots limited, the linebackers along with the defensive backs, will be the toughest position to cut down.

Who will make the final 53 and will any surprise cuts occur?

(more…)


Patriots vs Broncos: Six Keys to a Playoff Victory

Monday, January 16th, 2012
Rob Ninkovich Patriots Broncos

Rob Ninkovich was a key part of stopping the Broncos offense cold.

NEPD Staff Writer: Doug Kyed

All season we’ve waited for the Patriots to put it all together and play their best for sixty minutes, on Saturday night, we finally saw it.

Somehow, the game was even more dominant than the 45-10 score makes it seem. As Ty Law said on Comcast Sports Net, the Patriots made the Broncos look like a college team.

Before we get into next week’s much tougher matchup against the Ravens, here are my six keys to Saturday’s victory:

(more…)







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