FOXBORO, Mass. — It's fitting that Mark Anderson has joined the organization that coined the term "humble pie."
That's because the defensive end just ate a fistful of it during his tour through free agency, which wasn't as glamorous as he had hoped it would be.
"I was expecting, being a veteran or whatever, to be picked up a little earlier," said Anderson, who signed Friday with the Patriots. "I had to humble myself. I went back and watched film, just to try to see what was going on, feel it out, went back to the family and wait my turn."
Anderson has shown some explosion off the edge during his two practices with the Patriots, and he could be an asset to the defense if he can keep up that pace. He was dominant as a rookie in 2006 with the Bears, recording a career-high 12 sacks as a pure pass rusher.
But he said they reined him in as his tenure progressed in Chicago, asking him to do more than just pin it back and aim for the quarterback. He struggled to become the versatile player they wanted, and he was eventually released midway through 2010, finishing the season as a backup with the Texans.
Anderson hasn't really come close to approaching the production from his rookie campaign, tallying 13.5 sacks over the course of his last four seasons combined.
"The biggest thing was just mainly, my rookie year, I really only had one job," Anderson said. "That was basically to go get the quarterback. After that, I had to start playing more of a defensive lineman role, playing the run as well. That just kind of threw me off my whole mindset. Toward the end of [last] year, I got the hang of playing the run and pass as well, just trying to be the all-around defensive end player. Now, I'm pretty comfortable with everything."
It's still unclear which direction the Patriots will take with their defensive scheme this season, but they definitely need edge rushers. Since Anderson has experience playing defensive end in the 4-3 and outside linebacker in the 3-4, he's got the background that New England needs in its multiple sets.
If the Patriots turn him loose, there's a chance he could provide a boost off the edge. After all, he recorded more sacks as a rookie than any Patriot except Albert Haynesworth and Mike Wright has registered in his career.
Anderson insisted he's not just about that, though. He's a more well-rounded player now — he joked that he'd kick field goals if that's what the Patriots wanted — and is just looking for a job.
"My role hasn't been defined yet," Anderson said. "But right now they just have me practicing, doing a lot of pass rushing, as well as playing the run and just seeing where I fit in best. Wherever they need me, I'm ready to go wherever."
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