Anytime a football team adds a player like cornerback Darrelle Revis, the defense instantly becomes better. The New England Patriots are that team this year and with players like Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo returning from injuries, Bill Belichick’s defense should be extremely better. Defensive co-captain Rob Ninkovich certainty thinks so. On Wednesday, the defensive end addressed the media expressing his confidence in the team’s defense being much more formidable.
Last season, injuries were a major part of the team’s defensive issues. With veteran players like Wilfork, Mayo and Tommy Kelly out of the lineup, the Patriots were exposed in the later part or the season, particularly the AFC Championship Game at Denver. The Broncos offense had their way, which is why getting those guys back on the defensive line and healthy is a focus for the Patriots.
Ninkovich addressed this saying, “We’ve got some or our guys back, you know. Last year was tough. When we lost Mayo and Vince and Tommy. Those were big blows. Having those guys next to you definitely gives you more confidence.” Without them Ninkovich had to become more of a vocal leader in helping the younger guys filling in adapt and be able to adjust on the fly.
Ninkovich, along with defensive end Chandler Jones, provided much of the team’s pressure. Another focal point in improving the defense was providing some depth along the defensive line. To address this, the team drafted defensive lineman Dominique Easley and signed veteran defensive end Will Smith. The team is also hoping for contributions from players like defensive lineman Chris Jones and second-year player Michael Buchanan. An improved secondary will also help the defensive line. That’s why bringing in a player like Revis has given Ninkovich extreme confidence.
“We have new people coming in as well that give you some confidence. When you have a guy like Revis on your team, you have confidence he’s going to go out there and shut down any receiver that he’s on. It’s definitely an exciting time for everyone…to put the sweat in together and get better as a while unit.”
The 30-year-old defensive end said there also has to be more focus on the defense getting off the field on crucial third down situations. The improved secondary should help and the work the team puts in together as a unit in training camp should help correct that. Overall, Ninkovich is excited and predicted that “we’re going to be a better defense,” placing emphasis on hard work and determination.