Commentary

Newest Patriots meet the press

Updated: April 28, 2012, 2:58 AM ET
By Mike Rodak | ESPNBoston.com

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- For defensive end Chandler Jones, being drafted by the New England Patriots on Thursday night was the easy part. Getting to Foxborough proved more difficult.

Jones was scheduled to appear at an introductory news conference early Friday afternoon, but plans changed after his direct flight from Syracuse to Boston was delayed. This forced the 21st-overall selection to fly through New York City en route to his new home in New England.

[+] EnlargeNew England Patriots
AP Photo/Charles KrupaPatriots first-rounders Chandler Jones and Dont'a Hightower smiled for the cameras at Gillette on Friday.
When the easygoing Jones finally took the podium at Gillette Stadium, something wasn't quite right. The sleeves of his dress shirt were rolled up to his elbows and no sport coat was in sight. Jones soon explained.

"I didn't know I was going to come here for a press conference," he admitted. "I was in my hoodie and my jeans, and they [told me], 'You have to come here and wear a suit tomorrow.'"

Jones turned to his brother, UFC fighter Jon "Bones" Jones for the attire, but with the Patriots' newest pass-rusher sporting impressive 35.5-inch arms, the suit stood no chance of fitting.

The early impression of Jones is that he is outgoing and enthusiastic, perhaps boyish, but the 22-year old ensured reporters that his on-field demeanor will be different.

"I know when it's time to play and when it's time to sit here and talk to the media," Jones said.

With a more straightforward personality, fellow first-round pick Dont'a Hightower (No. 25) was also on hand for Friday's meet and greet. The former Alabama linebacker made his style of play clear to reporters.

"I'm tough, physical, hard-nosed. I'm a big hitter. I'm going to get to the ball. When I get to the ball, I'm going to make sure whoever has the ball or whoever is around the ball, they're going to feel me," Hightower said. "I'm definitely going to be an intimidator."

Hightower said that he was about 75 yards away from the path of last year's F5 tornado that struck Tuscaloosa, Ala., where the University of Alabama is located. As the winds pulled one of his friends away, Hightower grabbed his cohort's arm and took cover.

"I couldn't even explain to you how scary it was. You just never know when's your last breath," Hightower said. "That definitely put me in perspective and made me change as far as my thinking perspective. I'm definitely blessed to be here today."

A native of Tennessee, Hightower noted that it was his first time traveling to the Boston area.

"This is definitely up there for me," Hightower said, noting that he was still feeling the chill from a blustery photo opportunity on the Gillette Stadium field minutes earlier. "It's definitely something I'm going to have to get used to."

When Hightower does get used to being in New England, his role in the defense will be a point of focus.

"I feel like [my versatility] is what's going to have me on the field a lot this year," Hightower said. "Whether it's getting after the quarterback, getting on the running back, or dropping in coverage, just trying to throw the quarterback off."

And this season, throwing the quarterback off will top the priority list for the pair of first-round defenders who arrived in town on Friday.

Mike Rodak covers the Patriots for ESPNBoston.com.

Mike Rodak

ESPN Buffalo Bills reporter

SPONSORED HEADLINES

EDITORS' PICKS

MORE NFL HEADLINES