Anderson hopes to boost pass rush
August, 6, 2011
By Mike Reiss | ESPNBoston.com
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Veteran free-agent pass rusher Mark Anderson has fresh legs compared to most of his Patriots teammates, and it showed on Saturday.
The Patriots held their 12th practice of training camp, but it was only Anderson's second after signing with the team Friday. He looked fast, at one point racing past rookie free-agent offensive tackle Corey Woods in 11-on-11 drills to register a would-be sack, and another time powering through offensive tackle Mark LeVoir in one-on-one drills by getting his hands inside him and driving him back with force.
If things go as Anderson hopes, he'll be doing more of that this season for the Patriots, the only team that showed aggressive interest in him as a free agent.
Mike Reiss "It was a humbling experience," Mark Anderson said of free agency. The veteran pass rusher signed with the Patriots on Friday.
"It was a humbling experience," Anderson said of free agency, adding that as a five-year veteran he thought he'd get picked up earlier. "I finally got the call from New England, and it's a great opportunity for me to go out there and play, pass rush or whatever, and help the defense out."
The pass rush has been a hot topic of offseason conversation with the Patriots, specifically when it comes to the defensive end/outside linebacker spot. The club has been working with a four-man line in camp, with Eric Moore and Jermaine Cunningham the top ends, and Anderson is working in behind that tandem.
Anderson (6-4, 255) played defensive end in the Bears' 4-3 defense, notching 12 sacks as a rookie in 2006 when he said his main job was to rush the passer. When he was thrust into a larger role the next year, and was asked to play the run more, his performance dipped.
"It kind of threw me off my whole mindset," he recalled.
He was released by the Bears last October and hooked on with the Texans the next day, assuming a pass-rush specific role in which he backed up defensive ends Mario Williams and Antonio Smith.
"We ran a lot of 4-3 and they had a couple packages where we did a little 3-4 type of stand-up, coming off the edge, and I think that helped me out in this situation. I think it's going to be a good fit," Anderson said.
In New England, Anderson has reacquainted with former Bears teammates LeVoir and safety Brandon McGowan, while noting that he was a teammate of defensive lineman Brandon Deaderick at Alabama and also shares the same agent as Cunningham.
It's only been two days, but so far, so good.
"There's a great tradition here," he said. "Everything they do is very professional and I wanted to be a part of that."