FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Two things stood out from Tuesday’s media chat with Patriots second-year linebacker Tyrone McKenzie at Gillette Stadium.
The first was appearance-based.
McKenzie’s neck is Ted Johnson-like thick. Like Johnson did from 1995-2004, one could envision McKenzie charging toward the line of scrimmage from the inside linebacker position in the team’s 3-4 alignment, bringing a physical, helmet-splitting edge to the defense. McKenzie has bulked up to a sturdy 248 pounds. He was 240 when he arrived as a third-round draft choice out of South Florida.
The second was McKenzie’s mentality.
Former Patriots Vice President of Player Personnel Scott Pioli used to say that the team’s “program” wasn’t for everyone because it is especially demanding and driven by competition. That’s why I was interested to hear what McKenzie had to say about the Patriots drafting Brandon Spikes in the second round, adding another highly touted player at his position.
“I’m very excited. Right now, we have so many linebackers, inside and outside. We have a lot of good guys and a lot of guys that are going to compete,” McKenzie responded. “At the end of the day, you want to win. So let’s get the best players on the field and let’s win.”
That type of attitude figures to suit McKenzie well.
One of the top competitions on the Patriots’ roster will be at inside linebacker, where McKenzie, Spikes and 2009 starter Gary Guyton will vie for playing time next to Jerod Mayo.
While Spikes has naturally generated buzz following the draft, Tuesday provided a reminder not to count McKenzie out.