Trey Flowers now Patriots’ main man at defensive end

August 8, 2017 GMT

FOXBORO — Trey Flowers is only 23, but when he looks around at the rest of the Patriots defensive linemen this season, all eyes will be on him.

It’s a two-pronged philosophy. The Patriots defensive end is going to be asked to produce in a bigger way this season at the same time he’s becoming a leader in the meeting room, with rookies all around him seeking advice.

Looking for those tips would be well-advised. Flowers, who is entering his third season with the Pats, broke out last season with a team-high seven sacks and 21/2 more in the Super Bowl. With Chris Long gone via free agency, and Rob Ninkovich’s sudden retirement last week, the 2015 fourth-round pick has been thrust into a leadership position at a young age.

Flowers is just fine with that role, even if he still believes he has a lot more to prove.

“You understand that there’s a lot of guys looking up to you, and you probably got the most experience as far as on the defensive front,” Flowers said. “I’m still learning, so I’m all ears. It’s not like I know everything that Rob (Ninkovich) knows now. I’m still learning, but it’s definitely one of those roles that I’m anticipating stepping into, and if they have any questions for me, then I’m there to answer.”

It’s a far cry from last season, when Flowers was a little-known commodity among his veteran peers.

Flowers earned his time wherever he could get it. Whether it was on third down or special teams, he took his opportunities and ran with them. That’s a big reason why he’s in his current position.

“That was my motto last year,” Flowers said. “I was just trying to get in anywhere I could fit in and just try to make the best of the opportunities. They gave me a role, and I just improved on it and continued to work at it. That’s my overall goal.”

That role is expanding in a big way this season, on and off the field. Rookies Derek Rivers and Deatrich Wise have impressed Flowers with their work ethic. The two have often been seen doing extra work after practice, and Flowers has taken notice, and even joined them a few times to show them some things.

Flowers was in their shoes once not too long ago, but his approach hasn’t changed even as he takes on a bigger load. He welcomes that challenge — the next challenge for a budding star.

“If my role increases and they expect more of me, then that’s what I’m gonna deal with,” Flowers said. “That’s one of the things, I come out, understand what they want me to do, and work hard to do it.”

And he doesn’t experience any pressure doing it.

“I wouldn’t say pressure,” he said. “I have high expectations of myself anyway, so I just want to be the overall best.”