Patriots 2013 position preview: Defensive Line

Chandler Jones, left, and Vince Wilfork will anchor a Patriots defensive line that has high expectations heading into the 2013 season. Credit: Getty Images
Chandler Jones, left, and Vince Wilfork will anchor a Patriots defensive line that has high expectations heading into the 2013 season. Credit: Getty Images

Offense – not defense – typically comes to mind when the Patriots are in the discussion.

But while the team’s secondary leaves something to be desired, the defensive line has been respectable – despite a lack of pass rush – and is improving.
Last year, the Pats gave up a stingy 3.9 yards on the ground per carry, good for sixth fewest in the NFL. In the four years prior to that, they didn’t rank lower than 13th in the NFL in yards allowed per carry.

All-Pro Vince Wilfork has anchored the d-line since he entered the NFL in 2004. The 6-foot-2, 325-pound Wilfork remains one of the best nose tackles in the game, often commanding double-teams by the opposing team’s offensive line.

Wilfork has forced three fumbles and recovered seven fumbles over the last three seasons and he’s as close to an every-down lineman as it gets.
This season he may have more help than ever.

The Patriots drafted defensive end Chandler Jones last season, and by all accounts Jones had a stellar rookie season.


The Syracuse product made 45 tackles including six sacks and three forced fumbles last season. He’s already considered a top 20 edge rusher, and should crack the top 10 – or top five – in the next couple of seasons. It should be a big second season for Jones.

On the opposite edge is Rob Ninkovich. While Jones was a first round pick, Ninkovich was drafted in the fifth round back in 2006 by the Saints, and didn’t show his worth until he joined the Pats in 2009.

Ninkovich is versatile. He played linebacker when the Pats were primarily a 3-4 defense, and now plays defensive end in the 4-3. He had a career-high eight sacks last season and forced five fumbles, recovering four of them. He also has four interceptions dating back to 2010.

But the big addition to the line is Tommy Kelly, who will look to clog the middle right next to Wilfork. Kelly signed a two-year deal with New England over the offseason, and the 32-year-old has looked impressive in camp and in the team’s first preseason game.

The Pats also signed CFL star Armond Armstead, but he’s been out of action due to surgery for an infection. A healthy Armstead is important due to the Pats’ lack of d-line depth. Marcus Forston, Justin Francis, Jake Bequette, and Jermaine Cunningham hope to make an impact in backup roles this year.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Transit changes for Labor Day weekend

The MTA is adding additional service Friday for New Yorkers getting out of the city for the long weekend. On Friday, Aug. 29, 27 additional…

Local

Marshals, cops arrest fugitive after shootout in Queens

Federal authorities arrested a fugitive hiding out in Queens after he shot at U.S. Marshals and officers with the New York City Police Department.

Breaking: National

Peter Theo Curtis: American released by Syrian militants…

An American writer freed this week from two years in the captivity of insurgents in Syria spoke briefly outside his family's Cambridge home Wednesday of…

News

Rock legend Neil Young files for divorce after…

The legendary Canadian rocker Neil Young has filed for divorce from his wife of 36 years.

Movies

Review: 'The Congress' is a crazy, unwieldy sci-fi…

Robin Wright is the center of gravity in "The Congress," which turns from a live-action Hollywood satire into an animated spectacular on a downer future.

Movies

Review: 'The Last of Robin Hood' is a…

Dakota Fanning plays Errol Flynn's (Kevin Kline) teenage gal pal in "The Last of Robin Hood," which takes a scandal and makes it dully empathetic.

Movies

Review: The uneven 'Life of Crime' mostly gets…

Elmore Leonard's "The Switch" becomes the new indie crime dramedy "Life of Crime," with Jennifer Aniston as a kidnapped woman whose husband won't pay up.

Movies

Review: Pierce Brosnan gets a cut-rate Bond knockoff…

Pierce Brosnan tries to reclaim his glory days with the spy thriller "The November Man" but instead gets a sad DTV-style ripoff with lame action.

College

When are 2014 college football playoffs? (Schedule, date,…

When and where are 2014 college football playoffs? A look at the schedule, date, TV, time for the semi-finals at championship game.

NFL

Dimitri Patterson suspended only for rest of preseason…

Dimitri Patterson ended up getting just a slap on the wrist.

Sports

Eugenie Bouchard excited for 'rowdy' fans at US…

Eugenie Bouchard is sure to endear herself to New York's tennis faithful as she tries to win her first grand slam title across the next two weeks.

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: Angels and A's still at…

MLB Power Rankings: Angels and A's still at top, Nationals climb

Career

Stop eating lunch at your desk

What are you doing for lunch today? If you are like most workers, you'll be eating at your desk - which isn't much of a…

Parenting

Lure your baby to sleep with Maroon 5…

These new renditions of "Moves Like Jagger" and "Payphone" are Maroon 5 like you've never heard them before.

Wellbeing

Who is having the most orgasms?

  Single lesbians report having orgasms more often than heterosexual women but both gay and straight men still come out on top of the climax…

Home

Jonathan Adler shares his tips for a great…

Jonathan Adler took a break from boogie boarding at his beach house to tell us how to keep that Labor Day party festive.