Patriots

Patriots seem to have found another impactful pass-rusher in Deatrich Wise

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Patriots seem to have found another impactful pass-rusher in Deatrich Wise

When Deatrich Wise notched his first sack as a pro in Week 1 against the Chiefs, it wasn't quite what he had envisioned all his life. Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith tripped over himself trying to avoid pressure and all Wise had to do was be the first to touch him to get credit. 

But in Sunday's win against the Chiefs, Wise got his money's worth on No. 2, and he nearly had a couple of others. His sack of Drew Brees in the third quarter knocked the Saints out of field goal range and forced a Thomas Morstead punt.

To that point in the game, Wise had three quarterback hits -- and on two of those, Brees hit receivers for long gains -- so he was fired up to finally get home.

"When I finally got to him, I was excited," Wise said. "Was rushing a few times, was missing, kept hitting him, but there's nothing like getting an actual sack."

Wise finished the game with a whopping five quarterback hits, a sack and two tackles for losses, and it looks as though he's going to be able to provide the Patriots with a solid option as a pass-rusher along with fellow Arkansas product Trey Flowers.

After a summer-long debate as to where the Patriots would get their pass rush, the fourth-round pick -- the only 2017 draft pick to make the 53-man roster out of training camp -- has emerged.

Wise had an encouraging start to camp and immediately performed as one of the team's top defensive linemen. A concussion during the preseason opener against the Jaguars limited his practice time, but since he's been cleared, he immediately re-established himself as one of defensive coordinator Matt Patricia's third-down rushers. 

In 34 pass-rush snaps, Wise has recorded seven quarterback pressures (sacks, hits and hurries), according to Pro Football Focus. Though it's a small sample size, those numbers have made him one of the most productive pass-rushers in the league on a per-snap basis through two weeks.

His seven pressures is tied for eighth in the league, while Flowers (11) is fourth. 

"It's been great, these last few games," Wise said after beating the Saints. "I just want to keep showing my teammates and my coaches what I can do for this team."

Wise's experience in the SEC and physical skill set have helped him adapt to the pro game relatively quickly. He also seems to have a good grasp on how to use is length to his advantage -- perhaps as a result of working closely alongside Flowers, whose length is also one of his advantages in the trenches.

Coming into the draft, Wise measured in at 6-foot-5, 274 pounds with 35.5-inch arms and 10.5-inch hands, giving him dimensions that were strikingly similar to Chandler Jones when Jones was drafted out of Syracuse in 2012.

Bill Belichick likes what he's seen from Wise thus far, but he noted on Monday that Wise is still a work in progress, even when it comes to taking advantage of his length.

"I think that the length can be a good thing for a player if he knows how to use it and he plays with good leverage," Belichick said. "It can be a bad thing if long players play high and let other players play with better leverage and get underneath their pad level. It’s a potential opportunity, again, if it’s used properly with good pad level, leverage and technique, but it could also not be a good thing if it’s not used properly and just gives the blockers a bigger target and just isn’t effective.

"Deatrich’s worked hard on the techniques that Coach [Brendan] Daly’s been working with him on, both in the running game and the passing game. There were certainly some positive things that showed up yesterday and even last week. I still think there’s a long way to go, a lot of things that he can improve on. But, if he continues to work hard at it like he has been, then hopefully each week we’ll be able to see some improvement and better techniques and better fundamentals in all of the different areas of the game -- not just pass rush, but the running game and playing combination blocks and all the different sorts of things that come into really the heart of the issue, which is playing with good pad level, pad level leverage and technique."

After his second straight impactful performance, though encouraged, Wise expressed similar sentiments.

"There's still room to grow," he said. "I'm still learning every day. Malcom [Brown], Trey, [Lawrence] Guy [are] always telling me things I can work on daily. I'm really behind right now, I've got to catch up . . . I'm a rookie so I have a lot to learn about the game, about the playbook and about this whole thing."

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Julio Jones presents Johnson Bademosi opportunity to prove he's not niche player

Julio Jones presents Johnson Bademosi opportunity to prove he's not niche player

None of us thought Johnson Bademosi would be starting this past Sunday at MetLife Stadium against the Jets because -- well -- that’s not what we perceive the 27-year-old to be. He’s a special teamer. It’s how he’s made his mark in the NFL dating back to 2012 with Cleveland. So why would that change in mid-October for a team he’s only been with for six weeks? Because Bademosi is -- and has always been -- intent on proving he’s more than a niche player.

“I see myself as a football player,” he said, “and whatever position they put me in, I’m going to try to be the best because that’s how I operate and who I am as a person. Whether that’s as a cornerback, on special teams, if they ask me to play wildcat quarterback. Whatever…”

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Bill Belichick and his staff asked for Bademosi to go on the field and not come off. He played 73 defensive snaps in addition to his usual core four special teams duties. 

“I felt like I played a whole game,” Bademosi joked, before saying, “I love playing football so I’m going to go out there and empty myself.”

He did just that, getting targeted only two times in the 24-17 win over the Jets. It was hoped that Bademosi would return to his normal specialist role, but with Stephon Gilmore still out with a concussion, it now seems more and more likely that the sixth year pro will have to be an ironman again Sunday night in primetime against the Falcons. Historically, the Pats have defended bigger receivers. That means Bademosi may be responsible for one of the most dangerous players in the league, Julio Jones.

“He’s an amazing player," he said. “We all know what he’s capable of. As a defense, we have to be prepared for him.”

The Pats were on Super Bowl Sunday and Jones still made a couple of ridiculous plays with either Logan Ryan or Eric Rowe in coverage with safety help over the top.

“He’s fast. He’s physical. He can jump. He can run. He’s smart. He’s everything you want in a wide receiver,” said Bademosi without blinking an eye. That’s the kind of confidence you want from a player at that position and facing this type of challenge. 

“You gotta believe in yourself,” he said “ I’m confident in my abilities. I work hard and trust my preparation.”

Being an elite athlete certainly helps. Bademosi was a scholarship football player at Stanford -- “some guy named Jim Harbaugh called” -- before ending up in the NFL. But it’s Bademosi’s willingness to go all in in the film room that impressed safety Devin McCourty. 

“…I think, honestly, the most work he did was probably with just himself jumping into the film, watching more stuff to exactly see,” said McCourty Thursday. “You know, when you’re a backup more, you’re kind of trying to see everything because you don’t know what role you might be thrust upon once you’re in the game. But, I think once he knew he was starting, it was kind of like, ‘Alright, let me focus in on this.’ I thought he did an awesome job of just being ready and competing.”

Bademosi will have to compete his ass off Sunday night, even against what has been to this point a physically compromised Jones. Based on what he did several days ago, there’s no reason to believe the Pats cornerback won’t bring everything he has, trying to prove again that he’s more than just a special teams whiz.

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