Recent arrival Kony Ealy settles into Patriots life under Bill Belichick
FOXBORO — Kony Ealy seemed taken aback by the bluntness of the question, but he probably wanted to choose his words wisely.
That’s because of all the things that have stood out to him in his first two months with the Patriots, attention to detail is at the top.
The question: “Has anything about coach (Bill) Belichick surprised you at all or is he what you thought he was?”
The defensive end initially responded with a quick laugh. Belichick is a mystery to anyone on the outside, and most everybody has a certain perception of him.
“A little bit,” Ealy said. “You know, you hear a lot of things before you come to an opposing team, especially the Patriots. They’re a great team, great organization. You can see why they win so much.
Ealy quickly corrected himself.
“Why we win so much — obviously now I’m a Patriot. So, when you get here, you kind of experience your own little experiences as far as within the system.”
Ealy is still getting used to that culture he’s heard so much about, but he’s embracing those experiences.
After three years with the Carolina Panthers, Ealy was traded in March to the Patriots for a second-round pick in the next month’s NFL draft. His first impressions of the franchise are not unlike any other player who has joined it after playing for another team.
“Oh, man, just the way they do things here,” Ealy said. “Totally, totally different. It’s a good different. I’m enjoying the process of it as I go forward. The attention to detail I think is the most that sticks out, and coach Bill preaches it on and off the field. That can be in any different category, but just being attentive.”
The 25-year-old is still just tapping into his potential. Though he made just six starts in 2016, he’s the same player who dominated in the Panthers’ Super Bowl loss two years ago, recording three sacks, an interception and a forced fumble.
At the time of the trade, Panthers coach Ron Rivera said of Ealy: “They’re getting a guy I think that hasn’t quite really, truly tapped his potential.”
The reason isn’t quite clear as to why Ealy, who has one year remaining on his contract, was dealt away by Carolina, and yesterday he wouldn’t say if he was surprised he was traded.
“I can’t say whether I was surprised or if I was angry or anything,” Ealy said. “I think it’s more so just being blessed to have an opportunity to better yourself in a fresh start.”
Ealy also wouldn’t give in to saying being traded would be a motivating factor this season, either.
“I think just being able to be in this process right now, having a job and being able to do something I love to do and be able to provide for my family is something that’s really important and motivates me,” Ealy said. “Just looking forward to the future, period.”
It’s clear Ealy is not focused at all on the past — especially on that infamous Super Bowl performance.
It’s not quite clear what Ealy’s role will be with the Pats. Belichick loves to move players around, but Ealy’s approach is pretty simple.
“I just want to dominate whatever position I’m in,” Ealy said. “I think if you take that approach, good things will happen for you.”
Whatever the case, Ealy is excited to get started. He said his best football still lies ahead.
“I think each year should be your best year,” Ealy said. “You never should be complacent with the year you had previous. You should always want to get better and that’s what I plan on doing. I’m pretty sure everyone around here has the same attitude.”
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Former Patriots offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer said on SiriusXM Radio yesterday that he has no plans to play again.
The 33-year-old, who noted he has dropped about 75 pounds, was released March 3 after eight seasons with the team. He’s currently attending the league’s Broadcast Bootcamp at NFL Films.