FOXBORO, Mass. — The Patriots have picked up a former player of the team they’re facing for three straight weeks now.
They acquired Chris White, a former Bills linebacker, before Week 1. They signed Matthew Mulligan, a former Jets tight end, before Week 2. And they claimed Chris Jones, a former Buccaneers defensive tackle, last week. That could be coincidence, or it could be some extra strategic planning to get information on their next opponent.
Whatever the case, Jones was not in Tampa Bay for very long. The Bowling Green product was drafted in the sixth round by the Texans in April. He was part of the team’s final roster cuts on Aug. 30 and claimed by the Buccaneers (the Patriots also claimed him, but Tampa Bay had higher waiver priority). Jones was waived by the Bucs on Tuesday and scooped up by the Patriots. Houston attempted to reclaim him, but an obscure rule prevented them from doing so. The Patriots wound up with the rookie defensive tackle.
Jones said his former teammates may not even recognize him when they face off on Sunday since he was with the Buccaneers for such a brief time. He said his time in Tampa Bay may help him, but he avoided talking about whether it would help the Patriots.
“I don’t know,” Jones said. “I feel like some of them won’t even know I’m out there. ‘Who’s this guy? He looks familiar.’ I guess I have a little bit of an advantage just from being there. But other than that, it’s another game and another game we want to win.”
Jones has been on both sides of the Bill Belichick–Greg Schiano friendship now. The two coaches obviously have a lot of respect for one another (both have said so), but Jones doesn’t think they’re all that similar.
“Actually, for me, they’re really different,” Jones said. “Not like, just the way they are when they’re presenting the team. Coach Schiano was very upbeat and he’s very animated. He gets me pumped up and then Coach Belichick, he does it in a different way. He’s kind of a little softer with what he says. He get the point off like real clear. I’d say that’s the way they’re different. Other than that, they’re both two really good coaches.”
Jones seems to be highly sought after for a player who is on his third team since being drafted in April. He said the stop off in Tampa has helped him adapt to his new surroundings in Foxboro.
“I think so,” Jones said. “I’m still adapting. I’m still learning the defense here. It takes a little time. Coach is really working with me. Learning three defenses already is a hassle, but I’m more than happy that New England picked me up and I’ll do everything I can to learn the defense and get in.”
Jones has quite a pedigree. He recorded 12 1/2 sacks and 19 tackles for loss his senior year with the Falcons. He had 28 total sacks in four years at Bowling Green with 46 1/2 tackles for loss, two defended passes, six forced fumbles two fumble recoveries and a touchdown.
“First, I was with that team for four years, so I had some time to practice with them,” Jones said, in comparison to his time in the NFL. “As far as getting the 12 ½ sacks, a lot of it’s just work. Work in practice and work in the games. Not every pass rush move is going to be perfect. You’re not going to beat someone clean every time. Whenever I had the chance and had them slightly, I was able to run down the quarterback.”
Jones worked all over the line with the Falcons, especially during his senior year. He said he even played some wide-nine defensive end.
The Patriots must like that about Jones. New England runs multiple schemes in their defensive unit. At 6-foot-2, 315 pounds, Jones could line up at one-technique or three-technique in the 4-3 or five-technique in the 3-4 as a reserve. Joe Vellano is the current third-string defensive tackle. He’s looked better against the run than the pass so far. Jones’ ability as a pass rusher could be very helpful moving forward.
The Patriots obviously had some interest in the rookie since they attempted to claim him in August. The team doesn’t seem fully content with their defensive line yet.