Patriots gridiron news: Trey Flowers now the difference maker on defense

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 18: Trey Flowers
FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 18: Trey Flowers /

New England Patriots defensive end Trey Flowers is suddenly the most valuable player on the defensive unit heading into the second half of the season.

A couple of years ago, New England Patriots pass rushing defensive end Trey Flowers was part of a front seven defensive unit stacked with players like Rob Ninkovich, Dont’a Hightower, Chandler Jones, Jamie Collins, Jabaal Sheard and Chris Long.

Fast forward a couple of seasons and the third-year product out of Arkansas has emerged as one of the leaders on defense.  Due to trades, free agency, a retirement and an untimely injury and he is actually one of the most valuable players heading into the second-half of the 2017 NFL season.

With his 37 tackles and 3.5 sacks, Flowers doesn’t display dominant numbers, but his importance on the field is unheralded.  He is a player defensive coordinator Matt Patricia can move around along the defensive line.  He is also a player who could disrupt a game on any given play.

If you need evidence of that, just go back to his key sack on Matt Ryan in Super Bowl 51 that set up the team’s tying touchdown in the historic comeback victory over the Atlanta Falcons.

HOUSTON, TX – FEBRUARY 05: Trey Flowers
HOUSTON, TX – FEBRUARY 05: Trey Flowers /

Those are the types of plays it is now up to him to make; plays he has typically watched Ninkovich and Hightower make on a consistent basis.

Life without Hightower

Speaking of Hightower, Flowers knows it will take a complete team effort to replace a player of his caliber, both on the field and vocally.

"“Obviously Hightower was a leader out there and was a guy who brings emotion and an understanding of the game and our defense.  It’s next man up by the guys who were behind him, working in practice were ready,” Flowers said in his recent appearance on Ordway, Merloni & Fauria.  “Guys stepped up and filled a role, especially as a vocal part.  Once Hightower went down it was just preparation for the young guys and guys who needed reps to come out there and still produce.”"

On a defense that has been a bit better as of late, Trey Flowers can help the team even more by applying more pressure to the quarterback.  It is something he is confident the team can do and once they do, it will help the secondary make plays.  That also works the other way around.

Julian Edelman on Jimmy Garoppolo deal 

Veteran wide receiver Julian Edelman offered his opinion on the shocking trade that sent backup quarterback to the San Francisco49ers on Monday.

Related Story: 3 plays that defined Jimmy Garoppolo’s value

Appearing on NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football” on Friday, the California native joked about his relationship with Garoppolo, but at the same time applauded the type of player the 49ers are getting.

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"“They’re getting a stud, man,” Edelman said, via  “He was a good little friend of mine.  He would come out to L.A. and I would punk him into throwing to me a bunch his first couple years, and then he got a little too big for it.”"

In all seriousness, Edelman was Garoppolo’s security blanket during the opening drive for his first career NFL start in 2016.  The two connected a couple of times to start a drive that eventually led to a touchdown.

Joe Thuney fined

New England Patriots guard Joe Thuney is lighter in the wallet.

On Friday, the second-year offensive lineman was fined $9,115 for an illegal action committed in the fourth quarter of the team’s 21-13 win over the Los Angeles Chargers.

Next: New England Patriots: The 10 greatest defensive players of all-time

Thuney was penalized in the game for a 15-yard clipping penalty.  The yellow flag was drawn on a 2-yard loss by Dion Lewis.  Consequently, Chargers linebacker Hayes Pullard was also fined $9, 115 by the league for a 15-yard facemask penalty while tackling Lewis just a couple of plays prior.