FOXBOROUGH — If there’s one thing a defensive end craves, it’s time to get after the quarterback.
When the Patriots added a pair of highly regarded cornerbacks to their stable, Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, those transactions were a sure sign to Rob Ninkovich that he and his fellow linemen were going to have an easier time to to do what they love most.
“We got the best corner in the league coming in,” Ninkovich said of Revis. “That’s always a good thing for a defensive end like myself. Just give me a little bit more time. I’ll be happy to use that.”
With the free agent signees, the secondary can possibly shut down one or two players without a problem, Ninkovich said.
“You can do whatever you want with [Revis],” Ninkovich said. “You can put him on the best receiver, tight end, whoever, and just say ‘hey, go cover this guy,’ and he can do it. So whenever you have a guy that is that talented, it’s always great, as far as defensive schemes.”
As to Browner, Ninkovich said, “That guy is bigger than me. When I first met him, I didn’t know he was a corner. He’s a big, physical guy, he’s tall, and long. He’s another guy that you can, a piece that you can put on the field anywhere, cover a guy, and shut him down. So again, that’s another great addition that we have to our secondary.”
At this time of year, players are returning to New England to work out at Gillette Stadium ahead of the start of the team’s offseason program, which begins April 22. Ninkovich, has been working out with Jerod Mayo, who was put on injured reserve last year after he tore his pectoral muscle six games into the season.
“He’s a pretty explosive guy,” he said. “So I try to keep up with that guy. He’s looking good right now. I’ve been training with him for a long time. It’s always good to somebody to push you and make you better than what you are.“
With the free agency bonanza seemingly cooled off and the NFL draft a month away, Ninkovich was asked to assess if the Patriots had taken the necessary steps to get back to the AFC Championship and deal with high-powered offenses like the Denver Broncos.
“We’ve done some good things so far and it’s not over yet,” he said. “We’ve done some great things here and continue to get better as a football team. I’m excited that Julian [Edelman] came back. He’s my guy. He’s a good football player on offense. We have some great receivers coming back. And with Tom [Brady], you can pretty much do anything. Offensively, we’re looking good. Defensively, just adding a couple of pieces. What we had had so far, those guys are tremendous talents. As a defensive end, you’re happy to have two great corners that can shut down two receivers at the same time. And then we have a great safety. So again, defensively, we’ve improved. But we’ve got to put in the work. That starts now, it starts in the offseason. You have the talent, but you gotta put in the work to get to the ultimate goal.”