Defensive end Rob Ninkovich was one of the three Patriots players to talk at training camp, and he seemed very optimistic and excited about the upcoming season.
The veteran pointed out that the team needed to improve from last year, specifically the third down defense, an area where the Pats struggled, ranking 26th in the NFL. Ninkovich singled out the screen pass as a weakness, saying “third and long screens really hurt as last year.”
At the same time, he notes that they can’t dwell on the 2013 season, as there are plenty of new faces on the defense, and they are ready to turn the page. Here are a few more quotes from his press conference.
Touching on improving, but not dwelling on last year:
You look at last year, and you definitely put that to bed as far as like what we did last year. But you want to take some of the good things that you did out there and improve on those and then you see the things that you need to improve on. As a whole defense, you want to be better this year, this season. I think that, definitely as a defense, we’re going to be a better defense, but we’ve got to put the work in. So that starts today. Again, I think the things that we did last year well, you want to continue to do those and then also improve in some areas.
On the impact Revis has had on the defense:
Like I said with the guys that were injured last year, we have new people coming in as well that give you some confidence. Definitely when you’ve got a guy like Revis on your team, you’re going to have confidence that he’s going to go out there and shut down any receiver that he’s on. It’s definitely an exciting time for everybody, and we’re all excited to go out there and put the sweat in together and get better as a whole unit.
A lot has been made on Ninkovich and Chandler Jones playing over 90% of the defensive snaps last year. He was asked about this:
Yeah, whatever it is, I’m going to be out there, and I’m going to be playing hard. If it’s 90, if it’s 100, if it’s 80, I’m going to be out there playing just as hard as I would if I was playing 100 percent or 80 percent. It’s just going to be me doing the same thing that I do every year.