DEDHAM — Patriots defensive line coach Pepper Johnson was among those to attend Jerod Mayo’s charity bowling event tonight in Dedham.
Johnson took some time to talk to a couple of reporters before the event began. Johnson is entering is 24th season in the NFL and his 11th on Bill Belichick’s coaching staff.
When former defensive coordinator Dean Pees and the Patriots parted ways after the 2009 season, Johnson and linebackers coach Matt Patricia seemed to be the ideal internal candidates. But in February, Belichick said he would be more involved in the Patriots defense and the team would not hire a defensive coordinator.
When Johnson was asked tonight for his reaction of not having a defensive coordinator, he said that was the first time he had heard that but he added there is much to gain in working closely with Belichick.
He added, “I’ve been with Bill Belichick for about 25 years so nothing really shocks me with Bill. I don’t think it really matters.”
Johnson said he would like to be a defensive coordinator at some point in his career and the title carries some weight but in the meantime, he will learn all he can under the current scenario.
“It means a lot as far as my career and respect of it all,” Johnson said. “But once again, I wouldn’t be here without Bill Belichick. I’m quite sure everything he does is steps that make us better in trying to win ball games. So for him to become more involved I think it’s a plus for me, myself, because now the guy that I grew up with, the guy that was my defensive coordinator when I was in the league, with him being just a little bit more assertive out there on the field, I’m quite sure it’s going to show.”
With another year working with the defensive line, Johnson said he was happy to see nosetackle Vince Wilfork sealed up with a new contract.
“I’m happy for him, very happy for him,” Johnson said. “It’s something that’s been going on for a couple of years now. To finally get done, that was a plus for us. So a guy like Vince, you want him on your side. You never want to look at this guy across the field, so that’s a big plus for me. I understand the business of football and everything guys decide to move on with their lives and their careers and stuff like that. I’m happy that Vince’s career going to be here for a few more years.”