HENDERSON, Nev. — Adrian Phillips is taking it upon himself to ensure Patriots defenders don’t squander golden opportunities.
You might’ve noticed rookie cornerback Jack Jones doing pushups on the sideline last Friday after dropping a potential interception during New England’s preseason game against the Carolina Panthers. As it turns out, Jones was following the orders of Phillips, who’s been doing pushups after dropping picks since he entered the NFL in 2014.
“I can’t tell you how far back it goes — it goes back years,” Phillips said after Tuesday’s joint practice with the Las Vegas Raiders. “You never leave money on the table. So, if you drop the pick, your punishment is doing pushups. Because you can’t, obviously, you can’t bet. So, you do the pushups to make up for it. So, Jack dropped the pick in the game, I’m like, ‘Hey, I know you locked in, but get your pushups.’ We can’t leave that out there; those are game-changing plays.”
Phillips followed his own rule on Tuesday. During the final 11-on-11 drive for the Patriots’ first-team defense, the veteran safety dropped what should’ve been an easy interception thrown by Las Vegas quarterback Derek Carr.
“I come out here in practice, I drop the pick — you can’t do that,” Phillips said. “Those are game-changing plays. That’s another opportunity for our offense to go out there and make the lead bigger. So, we need those. We hold ourselves to a high standard, and we continue to just build off that. It’s been going on for years.”
How many pushups did he do?
“I did 25,” Phillips said. “I hold myself to a high standard, so I did 25.”
Phillips, of course, is right about the importance of taking advantage of opponents’ mistakes. You could make the case that J.C. Jackson dropped a potential AFC East title last season when he let a Josh Allen pass go through his fingertips late in the Patriots’ Week 16 loss to the Buffalo Bills. That New England ultimately didn’t deserve a divisional crown is beside the point.
Who knows? Maybe this tradition of punishment, enforced by players like Phillips, will prevent similar failures this season.
NESN.com’s coverage of New England Patriots preseason is presented by Cross Insurance, protecting your team since 1954.