Monday, November 14, 2016

Flowers fills the hole on defense

November 14, 2016


FOXBORO - Sunday night marked the beginning of a new era for the Patriots' defensive unit - life without Jamie Collins.

The trade of the veteran linebacker to the Cleveland Browns, who was third on the team with 43 tackles, had its first ramifications in the Patriots' 31-24 loss to the Seattle Seahawks at Gillette Stadium because the Patriots had been off since Halloween, on their bye week.

No doubt, Collins' departure was going to result in changes in playing time and responsibilities up and down throughout the front seven.

Among those seen as potential beneficiaries of the trade was defensive lineman Trey Flowers, who continues to have a solid first full season with the Patriots.

"It's been good," said Flowers, who collected a pair of sacks to go with three tackles against the Seahawks. "I feel like I'm ready for the second half of the season, no dings or anything like that. So away we go."

Flowers spent all of last season on injures reserve, so technically, he's a second-year player. So far this year, he has 18 tackles and two sacks (one more than Collins had) as well as a pass defense and a fumble recovery.

Flowers, who got the start Sunday night at right defensive end, had five tackles and both of his sacks in the Patriots' 41-25 win at Buffalo just before the break. He got a 7-yard sack of Seattle's Russell Wilson in the first quarter and another sack in the third quarter.

"Yeah, that's just the maxim of continuing to get better," he said. "It's just to continue to grow on my pass rush, stopping the run, whatever they want me to do and being productive in those areas."

Flowers had been on the field for 238 defensive snaps, or 42.9 percent of the available snaps, entering the game against Seattle. By contrast, Rob Ninkovich (who served a four-game suspension) has played in 34.1 percent, Jabaal Sheard 69.7 percent and Chris Long 70.3 percent.

Flowers said he wasn't sure if Collins' departure would impact those numbers, but he said he was ready for whatever might come his way.

"I don't know which way they're going to go with that," he said. "I just know it's my job to be ready whichever way they go. If they choose me to increase my role, just to be ready for it. If my role stays the same I'm going to work with what I've got. My main job is to stay ready for any time and any position they want me to play."

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