Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE ; Pats' Defense Facing Challenge without Jones

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE ; Pats' Defense Facing Challenge without Jones

Article excerpt

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) Defensive end Rob Ninkovich said the New England Patriots defense has a long way to go to get ready for Sept. 11 opener at Arizona. "It's early in camp. We still have a lot of days here to get better," Ninkovich said Thursday. "Obviously, you get pads on you're starting to build that foundation of communication.

"We got a long way to go here through camp. There's no light yet."

While much of the camp focus has been on the offense, which will be missing quarterback Tom Brady for the first four games because of his "Deflategate" suspension and has key players returning from surgery, the defense is getting used to life without Chandler Jones.

The Patriots finished second in the league with 49 sacks last season and Jones led the way with 12 sacks. Jones was traded to Arizona during the offseason and will line up against his old team on opening night in Glendale, Arizona.

Ninkovich, who had 6 sacks last season, is expected to pick up some of the production without Jones.

"Chan was a great teammate a good friend of mine, I'm definitely going to miss him as a friend and I wish him nothing but the best going forward," Ninkovich said.

"He's a great football player and everyone is going to have to step up without him, but that's just the name of the game.

"There's always going to be change. I've been here eight years and I've seen a lot of guys come and go. You just have to move on and the next guy's gotta perform that's just the name of the business."

As far as opening night, and seeing Jones, Ninkovich says, "You have to look at him across the field and hope he doesn't do what he does best."

Defensive end Chris Long and tackle Terrance Knighton have been added to the front seven for a team that finished ninth in the league in team defense and 10th in points allowed.

Cornerback Cyrus Jones was the team's top draft pick No. …

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