FOXBORO, Mass. — “Nobody works harder” is one of Bill Belichick’s favorite cliches. He’s used it to describe close to two dozen New England Patriots players over the years, if not more.
It was evident by the coach’s delivery, however, that the two latest recipients were particularly deserving.
Asked Wednesday morning about the development of second-year defensive ends Deatrich Wise and Derek Rivers, Belichick effusively praised their work ethic and desire to improve.
“Nobody works harder than those two guys,” he said. “Nobody. It’s hard to find a time that they’re not in this building. They work extremely hard on the field, off the field, their training, preparation, conditioning — you name it. They’ve kept that pace since they got here, and they’ve certainly sustained it in this year. They’ve made a lot of improvement, and they both have upside ahead of them. They work very hard.”
Rivers and Wise both were selected in the middle rounds of the 2017 NFL Draft (third and fourth, respectively) but currently are in different stages of their NFL careers. While the former suffered a season-ending torn ACL last summer and has yet to play in his first regular season game, the latter ranked third on the team in sacks as a rookie (five) and second in quarterback hits (19).
They’re taking the same approach in their second Patriots training camp, however. Both regularly are among the last to leave the field after practice and have drawn rave reviews for their off-the-field commitment.
“Those two guys put in a lot of work,” linebacker Kyle Van Noy said. “They’re here early mornings and they are here late, and it’s going to show. It might not show as fast as everybody wants it to be, but it’ll get there.”
This all comes naturally to Wise, though. In his mind, if you’re not working overtime, you’re not working. That’s just the way he was raised.
“Well, this is my job,” the Arkansas product said matter of factly. “This is something that I have to do. If I was an accountant, I’d be at work all day. If I was a teacher, I’d be doing the lesson all day. This is my job. This is my work. This is my craft — something that I have to do and I have to perfect.”
Thanks to several injuries last year, we’ve yet to see the true potential of New England’s 2017 rookie class, which includes a slew of front-seven players. In addition to draft picks Wise and Rivers, hybrid linebacker Harvey Langi and defensive tackle Adam Butler cracked the 53-man roster as undrafted rookies, and UDFA defensive end Keionta Davis is back after spending last season on the non-football injury list.
Of that group, only Wise and Butler saw significant playing time in 2017, with Rivers and Davis sitting all 16 games and Langi playing in just one before suffering serious injuries in a car crash. All five now are healthy and fully participating in training camp.
“We came in together,” Wise said. “Derek, Keionta, Adam, Harvey, all those guys. We came in together. We’re real close. We help each other out. When we see small things on film, we’re talking about it. He helps me out, I help him out, and it’s one big pot of love.”
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images
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