FOXBORO, Mass — There’s a reason Trey Flowers earned the nickname “Technique” from former teammates Chris Long and Rob Ninkovich when he was a second-year player in 2016.
Flowers’ technique — his hand placement, footwork, pass-rush moves — is the embodiment of what the New England Patriots look for in a defensive end. And that’s why young Patriots pass rushers, like Deatrich Wise Jr., Derek Rivers and Keionta Davis, are smart to study their veteran teammate.
“I mean, if they just watch what he does and do what he does, you couldn’t do much better than that,” head coach Bill Belichick said Monday.
“He’s such a — dude’s a great player, bro,” Rivers said. “He’s definitely a guy that we all watch, especially on film just to see how he places his hands. Everything looks right. He’s a great player.”
The Patriots know what they have in Flowers. He’s put up 13 sacks over the last two seasons and is one of the Patriots’ best overall defenders. But what they get out of Wise, Rivers and Davis could dictate the success of the Patriots’ pass rush. Flowers can’t do it alone, and he needs help beyond what fellow NFL veteran Adrian Clayborn can provide on the other side.
And that’s probably why Flowers is so willing to help out younger players at his position.
“Yeah, Trey’s great with them,” Belichick said. “He does an outstanding job with his teammates at that position. He doesn’t have a lot of practice time this year, but when he does and the opportunities that he has in meetings and things like that, and he’s a great example for them.”
Flowers has been limited in practice and held out of the preseason with an undisclosed injury. But young Patriots defenders still are able to glean from Flowers off the field.
“Very helpful,” Wise said. “He’s like that person — you don’t always want to go to your coach for everything. It’s kind of like how you don’t always want to go to your parents for everything. You go to your brother or sister. It’s kind of like the same thing. Going to Trey is like going to a brother, talking to him. He’s someone who you can just talk to about how to play certain stuff.”
When Flowers is able to practice, it’s normal to see him stay after to keep working on his craft. And sometimes he’ll have a group of young players around him. And if an older guy is doing it, then younger players might start to follow suit. That becomes the norm.
“It’s definitely motivation,” Davis said. “You see him have so much success that he has so far in his career, and you know it comes from somewhere. To see him stay after definitely makes you wonder, ‘OK, what is he doing over there? What is he working on?’ A lot of the young guys kind of pick up on that. Whether it’s just five or six minutes to stay out there extra and work on your craft or work on something that didn’t go right in practice that day. Because you know it has to transfer over to the next day. So, definitely seeing him work and his work ethic is an inspiration.”
Flowers has a natural connection to Wise because they played at Arkansas together. He also serves as an inspiration for Davis and Rivers, both of whom sat out their entire rookie seasons, because he basically redshirted his 2015 rookie season. Flowers missed time with knee and shoulder injuries before hitting injured reserve before Week 12 of the 2015 season. He played in just one game.
Davis spent all of 2017 on the non-football injury list with a bulging disc in his neck. Rivers spent 2017 on injured reserve after tearing his ACL.
“He put in the work,” Davis said. “He made himself a good player, and I’m trying to follow that same path right there. Trying to put in the work, trying to be the best player I can be and just get better every day.”
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images