FOXBORO, Mass. — The New England Patriots flew under the radar as a top 10 defense in both yards and points allowed in 2015. They could be even better in 2016.
Chandler Jones is gone to the Arizona Cardinals, but cornerbacks Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan, defensive tackle Malcom Brown, defensive end Jabaal Sheard and linebackers Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower are another year older, wiser and potentially better. Safeties Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung are coming off stellar seasons, and the Patriots added defensive tackle Terrance Knighton and pass rusher Chris Long through free agency. Defensive end Rob Ninkovich looks as explosive as ever in training camp.
“High expectations,” Butler said about the defense. “We got to stop people, make plays. Not just the defense, offense also, special teams. We want to be great all around.
“The standards are high every year for the New England Patriots, and I’m pretty sure for every other team, so always strive for the highest. We’ll see when the time comes.”
The defense might need to step up in the first four weeks of the season when quarterback Tom Brady is serving his suspension, though Jimmy Garoppolo has been solid in training camp.
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