FOXBORO, Mass. — Despite being a healthy scratch over the final two weeks of the New England Patriots’ regular season, defensive end Adrian Clayborn isn’t trying to make any waves.
“I don’t want to get into it,” Clayborn said. “I’m not really trying to start any rifts or anything, but I don’t know. It is what it is. That’s over and done with. Moving forward, we’ll see where it goes. Playoffs now, can’t really be negative about anything.”
Clayborn was active in the Patriots’ first 14 games, and he performed as advertised. Clayborn finished second on the team with 39 pressures and mostly was used against the pass. Just 13.2 percent of Clayborn’s 318 total snaps came against the run.
But as the Patriots’ run defense began to falter down the stretch, the Patriots activated defensive tackle Danny Shelton and defensive end Ufomba Kamalu, leaving Clayborn off the field.
“It is what it is,” Clayborn said. “It’s part of the journey I guess. Just gotta roll with the punches.”
On Wednesday, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick briefly touched upon what goes into the decision to deactivate players while being asked about Shelton. The Patriots must declare seven players inactive every game. In recent weeks, those decisions have been difficult since the Patriots have been relatively healthy.
“So, I mean, look, there’s a lot of guys we could have played in the last couple weeks that were inactive that we just couldn’t activate,” Belichick said. “So, it was (Shelton) a couple weeks. It’s been other players. In the end, we just have to pick the ones we feel like would be the most important for that particular game, and it changes week to week.”
Clayborn was vague when asked if he’s worked to improve in practice to make sure he’s active for the regular season.
“I don’t think that was a problem,” Clayborn said. “But I don’t want to get into it and discuss the conversation that was had, but we’ll see going forward.”
Clayborn said he had never been a healthy scratch before in his eight-year NFL career. He seemed to be keeping a positive mindset toward the future.
“Yeah, we’ll see,” Clayborn said. “I’m just a worker but we’ll see. We’ll see.”
Clayborn was the Patriots’ highest-profile signing over the offseason. He signed a two-year, $10 million contract, and has a $6 million cap hit next season. If the Patriots decided to part ways with him over the offseason, they could save $4 million in cap room.