Patriots defense ready to hit for real against Eagles on Friday

Rob Ninkovich and the Patriots defense will get to hit for real against the Eagles on Friday night. Credit: Getty Images
Rob Ninkovich and the Patriots defense will get to hit for real against the Eagles on Friday night. Credit: Getty Images

PHILADELPHIA — After two days of playing patty-cake with Eagles quarterbacks Michael Vick and Nick Foles the Patriots defensive line is ready to hit someone for real.
Yes, practice is practice, they concede. And it certainly has value, both sides saying these joint workouts the past two days have beneficial. But nothing beats game day.
Friday can’t come soon enough when this week’s gracious hosts and their appreciative guests can put the niceties aside and get down to business in the preseason opener.

“Yeah, I’m sick of tagging off,” said Rob Ninkovich, now in his second season on the D-line after starting off as a linebacker. “I’m ready to wrap up and take someone to the ground.

“But this (joint practice) isn’t a game. The quarterbacks aren’t live, so I’m gonna treat them as I would my teammate.”


D-linemate Vince Wilfork, who finds himself the senior member of Bill Belichick’s defense in his 10th season, says it comes with the territory.

“You just have to know how to be a professional,” said the 31-year Wilfork following a practice that was bumped up two hours due to expected nasty conditions and ended just as the rain began to fall. “You have to have good practice habits … I always try to practice smart. We don’t go ‘full go’ and take down. We’re not taking them to the ground because we’re so used to it as pros.

“But on game day everything’s live. You can go through your progressions and make tackles. You can be a little bit more aggressive, bump guys and be physical on game days. You practice to get prepared for game day.”

Unlike the offense, which is going through a radical facelift, particularly at the skill positions, the Pats’ defense in 2013 will look much like last year’s. That’s especially true for the front seven, with journeyman Tommy Kelly the only new addition to a unit that returns all but one of its top 17 tacklers.

But they’d prefer to downplay that, saying what’s in the past doesn’t matter, focusing instead on tomorrow night as the first step leading to opening day in Buffalo next month.

“It’ll be good to see everyone against different competition,” said the 29-year-old Ninkovich, who led the 2012 team with eight sacks. “When you play your own team you don’t get that same feeling as going against someone else.

“The competition level rises a bit. Friday we don’t want to see drop-off in the level of play when the personnel changes.”

Ninkovich’s eyes light up when asked how to attack a team using the read-option, considered a staple of Kelly’s teams in Oregon.

“I enjoy that,” admitted Ninkovich. “That read option for me is a green light to hit the quarterback. When you’re running that play you turn your quarterback into a running back. But Vick’s body of work speaks for itself. When he scrambles it changes things.”



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Gunther from 'Friends' talks Central Perk

We spoke with Gunther (James Michael Tyler) at the preview for new pop-up Central Perk, based on the cafe in "Friends."

Local

Central Perk opens in SoHo

Central Perk, of "Friends" fame, is giving out free coffee in SoHo through Oct. 18.

National

Beer sponsor Anheuser-Busch reproaches NFL over domestic abuse

Anheuser-Busch chastised the NFL for its handling of domestic violence cases, making it the first major advertiser to put pressure on the league.

Local

Sen. Krueger dishes on prospect of legal marijuana…

New Yorkers may see the legalization of recreational marijuana use as early as 2015 if State Senator Liz Krueger (D) gets her way. The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act will…

Music

FREEMAN makes Freeman a free man from Ween

For nearly 30 years, Aaron Freeman was known endearingly to his listeners as Gene Ween. But with "FREEMAN," he makes it clear that he's gone somewhere else.

Television

'Outlander' recap: Season 1, Episode 6: 'The Garrison…

Whipping, punching, kicking and a marriage contract. "Outlander" is not for the faint of heart this week with "The Garrison Commander."

The Word

The Word: Hey girl, it's a girl for…

It's a girl for Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes, who reportedly welcomed a daughter last Friday, according to Us Weekly. The super-private couple managed to…

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, Sept. 16: 'New Girl,'…

Check out the season premiere of "New Girl," as Jess competes with Jessica Biel for a guy's attentions.

MLB

5 top contenders for NL Rookie of the…

The outing rekindled award talk for deGrom, who appears to hold the top spot for NL Rookie of the Year honors. Metro breaks down a few other contenders.

College

College football Top 25 poll (AP rankings)

College football Top 25 poll (AP rankings)

NFL

Tom Coughlin says Giants 'beat themselves' against Cardinals

Head coach Tom Coughlin, who had a day to cool off and reflect, still sounded like he had a gnawing feeling in his gut.

NFL

Marty Mornhinweg accepts blame for Jets timeout fiasco

Jets fans looking for a scapegoat for Sunday’s timeout fiasco found a willing party on Monday: Marty Mornhinweg.

Style

Rachel Zoe: New York Fashion Week Spring 15

Rachel Zoe goes 'Glam bohemia' for Spring.

Food

Where to find SweeTango apples

Introduced in 2009, SweeTango — a hybrid of Honeycrisp and Zestar — is a sweet apple with plenty of crunch.

Style

London Fashion Week recap

London Fashion week gets in on the action with politics, heritage and summertime living.

Food

Padma Lakshmi's recipe for green mango curry

Padma Lakshmi shares her recipe for green mango curry in UNICEF's new book, "UNICHEF."