Friday, October 07, 2016

Defensive end Trey Flowers blossoms into action

New England's Trey Flowers has flourished on the defensive line for the Patriots after spending last season on injured reserve. The Associated Press

October 6, 2016

By Rich Garven

FOXBORO — The Patriots had a number of rookies come in and immediately contribute last season, including defensive tackle Malcom Brown, guards Shaq Mason and Tre’ Jackson, and long snapper Joe Cardona.

The list didn’t include defensive end Trey Flowers, who was drafted in the fourth round with the 101st overall selection. He appeared in one game, playing four defensive snaps, and was inactive for 10 games before landing on season-ending injured reserve with an unknown issue Dec. 1.

But he has integrated himself into the defensive end rotation with Jabaal Sheard and Chris Long this season, appearing in all four games and playing 52 percent of the snaps.

“No doubt,” Flowers said Thursday of how enjoyable it is to be contributing on a weekly basis. “Just to be out here putting my skills on display and coming in week in and week out with my brothers and working hard to try to achieve the game plan. I look at it as a blessing.”

Rob Ninkovich is expected to rejoin the Patriots for Sunday’s game against the Browns in Cleveland after serving his league-imposed, four-game suspension for the use of a banned substance. Flowers is confident it will be a smooth and successful transition for his fellow defensive end.

“Rob has been doing it for years, so once he comes back and gets the hang of things, gets in the swing of things, he’s just going to pick up where he left off,” said Flowers, who likely is to see his workload reduced once Ninkovich returns.

The 6-foot-2, 265-pound Flowers has collected nine tackles and two quarterback hits, deflected a pass, and recovered a fumble. He’s still in search of his first sack, but has been able to generate some pressure and get the quarterback to move off his spot.

That might not show up on the stat sheet, but it does on the field.

“Anytime you get a quarterback that isn’t aware of the rush he’s not looking downfield at his keys and things like that,” Flowers said. “So anytime you can get him to look at the rush for just a split second, he may miss a guy who’s open or give our secondary enough time to get over there to the open guy, and they can make a play on that. So it’s not always about sacks, but it’s good to get those, too.”

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