FOXBORO, Mass. — Tyrone McKenzie hasn't played a down in the NFL. He hasn't even lined up for a single practice snap with New England's veterans. Yet, the Patriots' second-year middle linebacker is already enthralled with New England's defensive system, and he can't wait to finally get some on-field reps after missing his entire rookie season due to a right knee injury.
"I love this defense because it keeps you thinking the entire game," McKenzie said Tuesday morning. "[As the middle linebacker], you've got to make all the checks, all the calls. Everyone is looking for you. When you stand in front of that huddle, you've got to know what you're talking about, and then you've got to go out there and back it up. I love the defense because you get to be a true player all around."
McKenzie tore up his knee during the second and final day of the Patriots' 2009 rookie camp, and he'll get his first chance to officially practice with the team next week when organized team activities begin at Gillette Stadium. McKenzie, 24, is part of the Patriots' crop of promising young linebackers. Including rookies Brandon Spikes and Jermaine Cunningham, eight of the 12 linebackers are 25 years old or younger.
"I'm very excited," McKenzie said. "Right now, we've got so many linebackers, inside and outside. We've got a lot of good guys and a lot of guys that are going to compete. At the end of the day, you want to win, so let's get the best players on the field, and let's win."