Patriots doing a defensive make-over
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) – The Patriots are sporting a new look on defense and an attitude of leaving behind their lack of defense in the Super Bowl.
Former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia is now head coach in Detroit. Longtime assistant Brian Flores is running the defense in New England without the formal title of coordinator.
Several players have shuffled on and off the roster. Starting cornerback Malcolm Butler signed with Tennessee in free agency after being mysteriously benched for most of the Super Bowl, but key additions include lineman Danny Shelton, pass rusher Adrian Clayborn and cornerback Jason McCourty joining his twin brother Devin in the backfield.
Linebacker Dont’a Hightower says the players are moving past the Super Bowl loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, a game in which the Patriots defense allowed 613 yards.
“I don’t think any of those guys are going to let that hold over their heads. I’m sure they’re focused on this year. That Super Bowl last year is gone, it’s over with,” Hightower said. “We’re focusing on training camp.”
Safety Duron Harmon says all his teammates can do now is buckle down on their assignments and string good days together.
“If you’re looking at the tunnel you can’t even see the light right now,” said Harmon, who changed his number to 21 as he gave the No. 30 jersey to Jason McCourty, who played for the Browns last season.
Players say Flores has brought in a different terminology and attitude.
“I know how he’s going to drive the team and I appreciate it,” Harmon said. “I like his intensity, I love his attitude and I just know it’s going to help me become a better football player.”
WR Malcolm Mitchell, still working his way back from knee surgery, was among the players who missed the first day of camp.
TE Rob Gronkowski, in camp amid crawling talks aimed at a new contract, was asked if Tom Brady amazes him performing at this high level after age 40: “It’s just like he was out here when I first got here. He’s full go, always ready to roll and it’s just an inspiration basically, just how fast he’s always playing and he’s ready to roll.”
Players and coach Bill Belichick are refusing to address Butler’s exit, with Harmon saying: “Malcolm has moved on, he’s now with the Tennessee Titans and it’s time that we do the same.”