The knock on Kony Ealy during his time with the Panthers wasn't that he lacked the ability to rush the passer. It was that he flashed that ability with less consistency than his fans and coaches in Carolina would have liked.
Now that Ealy has been dealt to the Patriots -- New England sent its second-round pick to the Panthers in exchange for the defensive end and a third-round choice -- he's hopeful he'll be able to take his game to another level.
One of the people he'll be leaning on for help? Tom Brady.
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"I like getting after quarterbacks," Ealy told Patriots.com. "Good thing I get to play with one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play and to learn from him. He's going to help me learn how to get to more quarterbacks. I'll try to use that to my advantage."
Ealy put together one of the best Super Bowl performances for a defensive player in league history two years ago. Though his team lost to the Broncos in Super Bowl 50, he might've been in line for the Most Valuable Player Award had the outcome been different thanks to his record-tying three sacks, an interception and a forced fumble. He was the only player in Super Bowl history to record multiple sacks and a pick in the game.
The follow-up season for the 2014 second-rounder was relatively quiet, however. He logged five sacks in 16 games, forced two fumbles and had one interception to go along with three passes defensed.
With the Patriots, he'll make up part of a rotation that will include Rob Ninkovich and Trey Flowers, and he wants to help the group work its way back to another Super Bowl.
He's been there once before and had the game of his life. Now he wants to finish.
"Very excited," he said. "Being with a group of guys, a championship-caliber team, having the opportunity to learn from these guys and hopefully be there myself. It's just putting everything together just like God has planned for me."