FOXBORO, Mass. — The headliner of one of the NFL’s most significant offseason trades hasn’t had any trouble adjusting to his second NFL home.
Chandler Jones, whom the New England Patriots dealt to the Arizona Cardinals in March, garnered a rave review from his new head coach four days before his regular-season Cardinals debut.
“A true professional,” Bruce Arians said Wednesday in a conference call with reporters. “Comes to work every day. He’s a coach pleaser. He’s extremely talented, obviously, but I’ve been very impressed with the way he’s fit in with our group and our culture right away.”
Jones earned his first Pro Bowl nod and led the Patriots with 12 1/2 sacks as a defensive end last season. His move to the desert included a position change, as Arians plans to deploy the 2012 first-round draft pick as an outside linebacker this season.
“He sets an edge presence for us,” Arians said. “Playing outside linebacker, defensive end, he’s obviously very versatile where you can put him. But he’s adapted well to playing outside linebacker for us, and also in our nickel and dime packages, being an edge rusher. It’s something that we were looking for. He has the length and the skill set to rush the passer.”
The acquisition of Jones provided a boost to an already-formidable Cardinals defense, which ranked in the top 10 in the NFL in yards, passing yards, rushing yards and points allowed per game last season. That coupled with an explosive offense propelled Arizona to a franchise-best 13-3 record and its first playoff win since 2009.
“I think we had a solid season last year,” Arians said. “Every year is a new year. You take them one at a time and add them up at the end. But, we feel like we’ve got a pretty solid football team to start out with.”
The Cardinals and Patriots, who will meet Sunday night in Week 1, both fell one win shy of the Super Bowl last season, losing in their respective conference championship games.
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images