Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Belichick very complimentary of Jones, Hightower


Bill Belichick doesn't like to talk up his players much, if at all.

But it was hard to ignore what first-round rookie front-seven defenders Dont'a Hightower and Chandler Jones did Sunday in the New England Patriots' season-opener. The pair teamed up for a strip-sack and fumble recovery for a touchdown and had solid outings throughout.

Monday, Belichick explained why he thinks both players have come along so quickly in New England's defense.

"I’d say that Dont’a has a lot of responsibility at his position, relative to formations and adjustments, pass coverage, run responsibilities and all that," Belichick told the media. "He did a lot of those things at Alabama and played a couple different spots at Alabama in their defense, which has some similarities to what we do. I think he was very well-coached and schooled when he got here. He’s a smart guy. He’s picking things up pretty well.

"Chandler, less experienced but probably less variables at his position, although there are still plenty of them, but probably not to the degree that Dont’a has a regular and nickel linebacker and all those kind of things."

Belichick said the first-year defenders have handled their early-career baptism-by-fire campaigns well.

"That’s always good way to learn, is to experience it and go through it, make a mistake, correct it, go out there, do it again and get it right," he said. "There’s a lot to be said for that and those guys, really a lot of our young players have had an opportunity to do that – they’ve been on the field, they’ve practiced, they’ve made mistakes, they’ve gone back out and done them right the next time and been able to move onto something else.

"That’s been a positive. Those two guys, they’ve done a good job."

That's a heck of a lot of praise by Belichick's standards. The defensive coach must know he has something special.

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