FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Defensive end Chandler Jones is blossoming into the player that the New England Patriots’ organization hoped he would become. With 14 combined tackles, two sacks, two passes defensed and a blocked field goal that he also returned for a touchdown this season, Jones is becoming a force for the Patriots’ defense.
When asked what Jones is doing differently in Year 3 versus his prior two seasons, linebacker Dont’a Hightower said “not much.”

“He’s definitely doing it all, even his rookie year — getting after the ball and playing the run,” Hightower said. “I definitely feel like going into our third year that Chandler stepped up a lot as far as being a leader.

“It’s kind of hard to lead when you know you have Vince Wilfork in your organization — a guy that’s been a big staple here for a long time. I definitely feel like he has done a real good job of trying to get some of the younger guys to stay together whether it’s [Michael] Buchanan or [Jake] Bequette or whoever it is. Just talking to those guys and leading them more.”

The praise doesn’t stop there for Jones — especially for his extremely long arms that measure an impressive 35 1/2 inches. Defensive end Rob Ninkovich joked about having a little jealousy for Jones’ wingspan.

“Yeah, I mean I wish I had his wingspan but I don’t,” Ninkovich said. “No, he’s a very talented young player, so for him the more he is doing it the more experience he gets, he’s just going to continue to get better.”

That long wingspan even led a reporter to ask quarterback Tom Brady during his morning news conference about the fantasy of Jones playing some offense.

“Usually they put the guys on defense because they can’t …read more