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It is easy to forget, but when the New England Patriots opened training camp in late July, first-round draft choice Chandler Jones was the second-string right defensive end.
The initial depth chart had Rob Ninkovich at right end and free-agent signee Trevor Scott at left end. When Ninkovich tweaked his oblique on the third day of camp and was limited for a few days of practice, Jones elevated to the top unit.
He never relinquished the spot, with Ninkovich moving to the left side upon his return.
Jones has been one of the Patriots' best defenders halfway through the season, playing 91.9 percent of the defensive snaps (including penalties), totaling a team-high six sacks and having been credited by coaches with 37 tackles and 2 passes defended.
His emergence has surprised many, and based on the first depth chart, one wonders if it also caught the Patriots' coaching staff by surprise.
"It's an unfair comparison because he's not this guy, but he has some Jason Pierre-Paul qualities," said ESPN.com NFL scout Matt Williamson, who formerly worked for the Cleveland Browns. "He's really, really gifted, so long, so athletic. With that long stride length, he eats up grass in a hurry, and he's powerful and versatile."