Two rookies getting plenty of reps and will provide depth
If you’ve been following the news coming out of the Patriots training camp this summer, much of the news concerning the Patriots defense has to do…and rightfully so, about the rise of Malcolm Butler and the addition of Jabaal Sheard to go along with bookend edge rushers Rob Ninkovich and Chandler Jones.
But two of the players selected in Rounds 3 and 4 of the 2015 NFL draft, Geneo Grissom and Trey Flowers have been quietly going about their business of learning their craft and having good camps thus far.
The Patriots have been searching for depth for their edge players as Ninkovich and Jones the past few years have been playing far too many snaps. Jones was injured and missed six games upon his return in 2014. Now the pieces are in place for them to do exactly that.
With the signing of Sheard, the Patriots got an established veteran, someone they scouted in the 2011 draft and a guy who should fit right into their defense. They are already tinkering with ways to get the three of them on the field together.
Grissom Can Do a bit of everything: Grissom, the Oklahoma Sooner product taken in the third round of this year’s draft has the versatility to play either a traditional 4-3 defensive end or stand up as an outside linebacker. Bill Belichick was high in his praise about his skills when the Patriots drafted him in May.
“I’d say he’s very instinctive as a pass-rusher,” Belichick said. “And he’s in coverage a decent amount of the time as a walk-off linebacker, so you see a guy play out in space out over the slot, he does a lot of that.”
“I’d say a guy to play from 3-technique to end of the line, to a walk-down linebacker—at the Senior Bowl they actually played him off the line, like in a tackle bubble—so he’s a pretty athletic, versatile guy.”
Grissom in the first days of camp was seen mostly with the special teams units as Belichick wanted to take advantage of his athletic skills, but as time goes on, he’s been seeing more and more of the defensive side of the ball as Belichick and Defensive Coordinator Matt Patricia try to find his strengths and put him in the best position to succeed.
Flowers Learns Quickly: Fourth round draft pick Trey Flowers quickly learned the Patriots system and from Day 1 was getting a lot of snaps behind starters Ninkovich and Jones. It shows that the coaches are not only impressed with the way he’s picked up the ins and outs of the defense but he’s shown he’s ready for the competition against NFL offensive linemen as well.
Flowers has been particularly impressive during the one-on-one drills displaying quickness, strength and nice instinctive play on the defensive line. Flowers is very good at setting the edge in the running game and with an underrated and emerging ability to get to the quarterback, he has been one of the pleasant surprises of training camp.
“You get that confidence in your skill and talent level, but the main thing is to not get too overzealous or too down on yourself with a good play or bad play,” Flowers said in an interview on Saturday. “You want to stay in the middle, stay in between having confidence in yourself… Just come out here and work hard to perfect my craft each and every day and stay levelheaded.”
Neither one of the rookies will supplant Jones or Ninkovich in the starting lineup this season. But the nice part of it is, they don’t have to. The starters along with Sheard will get the majority of the snaps, but now, the team has two more talented youngsters that can add depth and keep the rotations fresh.
Their first taste of NFL action will be against the Packers on Thursday. They should both see some significant playing time in the second half and will bear watching as they showcase what they can do.
Playing time under Bill Belichick is earned not given, regardless of draft position. And these two along with some other Patriots rookies will be fun to watch on Thursday night. While many fans lament not seeing their favorite stars on the field in the preseason, take the time to watch some of the players of the future. The rookie class of 2015 is about to take the field for the first time. And Grissom and Flowers should be a big part of that.
Stay tuned to PatsFans.com for all the latest coming out of training camp and monitor our Facebook page for the daily photo gallery
More Patriots News Headlines: