FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Despite the departures of veteran defensive linemen Richard Seymour and Jarvis Green since last training camp, the Patriots' defensive-line meeting room is filled with more knowledge and experience than it’s had in years.
The additions of Damione Lewis and Gerard Warren in the offseason brought a combined 18 years of NFL service to the position.
“They’re veterans. They’ve been around this game and they know exactly what they have to do,” said fellow defensive lineman Vince Wilfork after Friday morning’s practice. “They’ve been in a different scheme, but their professionalism is outstanding.”
For both Warren and Lewis, it is their first time playing in the 3-4 defensive scheme the Patriots use.
“It’s a totally different ballgame,” Lewis said. “Playing in the 4-3, you have to penetrate and get off the ball. [In the 3-4], you play blocks rather than trying to get around them. You’re sitting there and trying to defeat blocks by putting your hands on guys.”
With Ty Warren and Mike Wright out of practice over the past several days, the two newcomers have been called upon to fill holes at end alongside Wilfork. Gerard Warren, in particular has displayed versatility, lining up at both end and tackle in a scheme he had yet to play in before this season.
Head coach Bill Belichick had positive reviews of how the two veterans have picked up the new system and performed in practice thus far in training camp.
“I think they’ve adapted very well,” Belichick said. “They’ve taken a lot of snaps out there and overall I’d say they’ve performed very well. I like both of those players and I think they’ve done a good job for us. They’re good football players and they go about their job in a good way.”
Lewis has a similar review with his performance to date. “It’s been awesome playing in this system, with all the things we’re doing,” he said. “I’ve been having a good time and I think it’s been going well.”
However, this group of veterans realizes that they are not alone in the meeting room. There are also five selections from the previous two drafts that are looking to improve as football players.
“We lead by example,” Wilfork said. “A lot of times you don’t have to say much. You just put the film on and those [young] guys get a chance to see how a professional works. The last thing you want to do is to be a veteran in this game and don’t have the respect for your young guys.
“We’re the guys who they are going to look up to and who can answer a question when the coaches aren’t around.”