Aug 13, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones (95) rushes Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) during the first half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
The Patriots’ defense came out attacking the Packers. On the first play of the game Chandler Jones was credited with a sack of Aaron Rodgers as good coverage downfield caused him to hold the ball. Jones and end Rob Ninkovich were just out for 15 snaps with linebacker Jamie Collins, clearly the rotation that defensive coordinator Matt Patricia had for the starters.
Veteran Antonio Johnson started next to rookie Malcom Brown at defensive tackle. Brown struggled to push the pocket while Johnson had a few pressures and helped his cause as he fights for a roster spot. The players on the defensive line catching the eye on film review were fourth round draft pick Trey Flowers and veteran Rufus Johnson. Flowers and Johnson each had sacks and multiple pressures, but Johnson was a man among boys. Besides terrorizing the quarterback, he even had a nice breakup of a screen pass.
Unfortunately, continuing a theme of training camp, Flowers was injured early as he apparently hurt his shoulder. He went to the locker room and did not return. Johnson limped off the field with an apparent ankle injury in the third quarter but looked as if he could have returned if needed. Fighting for a practice squad spot, young player Dekoda Watson made some good tape for his highlight reel with a late sack.
Aug 13, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots linebacker Rufus Johnson (70) is pushed away from Green Bay Packers quarterback Scott Tolzien (16) by tackle Jeremy Vujnovich (60) during the second quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Free agent signing Jabaal Sheard had an excellent first appearance in New England. Rob Ninkovich is going to have trouble keeping Sheard from stealing snaps from him as the season progresses. Sheard had two quarterback hurries and drew a holding penalty as he made his presence felt as a pass rusher. New England fans got see number 93 creating havoc in the backfield as Sheard acquitted himself well in wearing Richard Seymour’s old number.
Young players who were expected to make an impact in the pass rush but did not were second year defensive tackles Dominique Easley and Zach Moore, third round draft pick defensive end Geneo Grissom, and seventh round draft pick defensive end Xzavier Dickson. Grissom had zero impact overall (Easley and Moore were solid against the run at least) and that is not what is expected of a third round draft pick, although in reviewing the tape he was lined up inside at defensive tackle on many plays which does not play to his strengths outside.
Next: The Run Defense