FOXBORO, Mass. — New England Patriots defensive end Kony Ealy could have a chance to spread his massive wingspan in his new setting.
Ealy was projected as a promising interior pass rusher when he was coming out of Missouri in the 2014 NFL Draft. The Carolina Panthers almost never used him inside, however, primarily lining up Ealy as an edge rusher on the left and right side, and his production was mixed. He recorded five sacks and generated pressure on 8.5 percent of his pass-rush snaps, according to Pro Football Focus. Comparatively speaking, Chris Long generated pressure on 13.9 percent of snaps, Jabaal Sheard on 12.8 percent, Rob Ninkovich on 11 percent and Trey Flowers on 9.8 percent in New England last season.
Ealy was asked Tuesday at Gillette Stadium if his role has been discussed with the Patriots yet.
“I just want to dominate whatever position I’m in,” Ealy said. “I think if you take that mind approach, good things will happen for you.”
Patriots edge rushers generally are asked to play two roles in the passing game: They either rush from the outside and drop back into coverage, or rush from the outside and kick inside. Since Ealy is 6-foot-5, 275 pounds, he likely will be asked — at least at times — to rush the passer from defensive tackle on third down. He would play that role next to Flowers, and the two certainly could do some damage.
Ealy said Tuesday he hopes his best football is in front of him. He could flourish if he’s asked to take on a role he excelled at in college but rarely played in his first three NFL seasons.
Thumbnail photo via Jeremy Brevard/USA TODAY Sports Images
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