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Daily training camp overreaction: Patriots defense to log 50 sacks in 2013

Posted by Erik Frenz  July 29, 2013 10:20 PM

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — If today's practice was any indication, the Patriots front seven will be an improved unit in 2013.

In one-on-one pass-rush drills, the defense went 13-3-2 in the first session and 12-6-0 in the second session.

Every defensive linemen that participated, won at least one of their matchups.

There's some pressure on defensive end Chandler Jones to build off his rookie season, which started strong but slowed down after he suffered an ankle injury. He's looked strong in camp thus far, and went 1-1-0 in his two battles, both with left tackle Nate Solder.

Defensive end Rob Ninkovich dominated all comers with a 3-0-0 performance, including one very impressive defeat of right tackle Sebastian Vollmer, where Ninkovich showed a rare quick twitch to get in the backfield before Vollmer even knew what was coming.

Even defensive tackle Joe Vellano, who suffered a crushing 0-4-0 day on Sunday, went 4-0-0 on Monday night, and logged a victory over center Ryan Wendell, who has dominated those drills to this point.

The only "down" player on the defensive line in those drills was Jermaine Cunningham, who went 2-2-0 and had another play which would have resulted in offsides. Cunningham took a lap for his infraction.

The defensive line's performance carried over to 11-on-11 drills, as well, with linebackers Jerod Mayo and Dont'a Hightower combining for pressure on the same play in what would have been a crunching for Tim Tebow, were it not for that red jersey.

With more continuity than in year's past, there's perhaps more focus on the defense to make progress from 2012 to 2013. The Patriots return nine of their 11 primary defensive starters from last season -- the only exceptions being safety Patrick Chung and defensive tackle Kyle Love. Tommy Kelly appears to be settling in nicely to Love's starting spot next to Vince Wilfork, and logged victories in his only two pass-rush attempts on Sunday night.

The Patriots pass rush has been lacking for years, with the defense logging 36 sacks in 2010 (15th), 40 sacks in 2011 (14th) and 37 sacks in 2012 (17th). Anything in the low- to mid-40's for a sack total would be a solid improvement for the defense.

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About the author

Erik Frenz delivers analysis of the biggest news with the Patriots, including insight into the AFC East and New England's biggest rivals from a Patriots perspective. Erik is an interactive writer who engages his audience in his posts’ comments sections and on Twitter. Readers are encouraged to share their thoughts and ask questions. More »


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