Rookie right defensive end Chandler Jones has been treated like the team’s incoming starter at the position throughout the offeseason, as he never missed an offseason workout and had been exceptional throughout training camp. The first-rounder out of Syracuse looks even stronger than expected, and the preseason opener against New Orleans highlighted his ability to rush the passer.
It’s one thing to be a standout in training camp, but it’s another thing to perform at a high level in a preseason game. It may be only a preseason game, but it’s still the first actual in-game experience that a rookie has ever faced thus far. In his first true trial, Chandler Jones passed with flying colors against Saints left tackle Jermon Bushrod.
Jones forced two holding penalties on Bushrod, as the rookie proved to be too much to handle for the veteran left tackle. He was a constant thorn in the side of the Saints offense, as he had a pair of big stops against the run and was even better as a pass rusher by generating a few pressures in a limited number of pass rushing attempts.
The defensive end showed that he can play well in both a two and three-point stance for the Patriots, which is especially key. Jones looks like a big impact rookie.
Dont’a Hightower is expected to start at linebacker, and rookie safety Tavon Wilson is expected to be the guy to get the the “third safety” snaps for the Pats. Both players have been impressive in training camp and haven’t missed an offseason workout either. Hightower finished the day with a few good plays against the run, but he was also culpable on a couple of solid runs by the Saints. Hightower looks like the answer for the Pats need of a good strong-side linebacker.