Pepper on Corwin, Anderson & more

August, 14, 2011
8/14/11
2:10
PM ET
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Patriots defensive line coach Pepper Johnson subbed in for Bill Belichick during Sunday’s news conference.

Some quick hits:

[+] EnlargeJohnson
Mike Reiss/ESPNBoston.comDefensive line coach Pepper Johnson touched on a number of topics, including the shooting of close friend Corwin Brown.
Tough to digest news on Corwin Brown. The last 24 hours have been “very tough” for Johnson when it comes to reading about his close friend Corwin Brown. Johnson told a story about how his son would play chess with Brown in the locker room, and Brown was one of the only players who didn't take advantage of a 10-year-old in the game. “I don’t really know exactly what’s going on so that kind of bothers you in a sense. My blessings are out to him and his family,” Johnson said, adding that he has to remain focused on his job. “It really hasn’t hit me yet. It was a stunner just getting the news what was going on.”

Toughest thing as a coach? It's Bill Belichick. Johnson was asked what the toughest thing was for him with all the new linemen coming on to the roster. He didn’t hesitate with his reply. “Bill Belichick,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what player comes out here, he wants this done. You could come and line up at defensive line.” That drew laughter from reporters.

Mark Anderson getting noticed. The six-year veteran made his presence felt with some strong pass rushes at defensive end in the preseason opener. “He’s a true professional,” Johnson said, noting that Anderson had to play deep into the second half when he probably would have liked to have more of his action front-loaded. “The first time he gets out there on the field, he makes a difference. He looked real good.”

Nothing like having Vince Wilfork. It was easy to see how much affection Johnson has for his Pro Bowl defensive lineman. “Vince ... helps … everybody,” Johnson said, with a slight delay between each word for effect. Johnson put linebacker Jerod Mayo in the same category.

Defenders responded well in preseason opener. Johnson explained that the coaching staff was pleased with how defenders adjusted on the fly Thursday. “Our guys did a great job on the sideline being coachable. We made some adjustments. We were kind of skeptical about how guys were going to handle the sideline. There was no panic on the sideline and it showed out there on the field. The communication was decent,” he said.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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