FOXBOROUGH — Henry Anderson was raring to go when the Patriots opened training camp last week, the veteran defensive end eager to put 2021 in the rear-view mirror.
“Getting hurt always sucks,” said Anderson, who suffered a torn pectoral in Week 4 last season. “It makes you realize how much you love the game. So, being back out there, just being with all the guys again, it’s awesome.”
Anderson was a standout during Tuesday’s practice, the club’s second in full pads and with full contact. He was able to pressure the pocket consistently and would have been credited with at least one sack if the quarterbacks weren’t in red jerseys. He also batted down a pass at the line and was able to hem runners along the outside.
“Pretty much any defense you play in ever, the No. 1 goal in the run game is to set the edge of the defense, force that ball to come back inside to all the big guys,” Anderson said. “Yeah, always trying to set the edge, make that ball carrier cut back where you’ve got a lot of help with the defense.”
With Deatrich Wise Jr. limited the last few days, Anderson has been getting extra reps and extra attention. He’s been on the field in every situation, which is a hallmark of New England’s linemen.
“I think versatile players are incredibly useful in our [defense],” said Anderson. “I know I try to always excel both in the run and the pass. I guess I have different strengths and weaknesses in each part of it in the run and the pass but try to work on everything and be someone they can rely on, on first, second or third down. I take a lot of pride in that.”
Anderson, despite having excellent size (6 feet 6 inches, 301 pounds), has always been kind of a tweener when it comes to a defined position, so he is used to adapting to whatever the scheme calls for.
“I’ve been like that everywhere because a lot of teams you’ve got those outside linebacker types and then you’ve got the big D-tackle types,” he said. “I just try to be a dude that you can count on, really put anywhere on the line of scrimmage, whether it’s over the center or over the tackle or tight end.
“I try to focus on good technique, know the defense really well, know every position so that if the coaches need someone to go out there, then I know what to do. I can execute at a high level.”
Jabrill Peppers was activated off the PUP list Monday, and though he’s in full pads, he’s still not a full go as he recovers from an ACL injury. But the safety found a way to stay engaged at practice.
Peppers would grab a walkie-talkie — normally reserved for the coaches — and listen in to the play calls, so he could take mental reps.
“I was just trying to stay locked in,” he said. “It’s kind of hard to hear plays when you’re standing behind the end zone.”
Peppers said he has really enjoyed the experiment/experience.
“It started off as my idea, but now I’m kind of on walkie-talkie duty,” he said. “I think it’s cool. The brain doesn’t know the difference between a mental rep and a physical rep if you’re locked in, so I kind of bought into that.”
Bill on Bill
Bill Belichick on the late Bill Russell: “Bill’s a great person; his comments on leadership, teamwork, unselfishness, are all outstanding. Very close with Jim Brown, so I got to know him through Jim. Both great people.” … The Patriots signed defensive backs Brad Hawkins and Jalen Elliott after having them in for tryouts Monday. The pair practiced Tuesday and ran with the safeties during positional drills. Hawkins was an undrafted free agent out of Michigan who was released by the Falcons last month. Elliott, a former Notre Dame captain, spent the past two seasons on the Lions practice squad and active roster … The Patriots also had DBs Devin Hafford and Daniel Wright in for workouts … Former Patriots defensive tackle Adam Butler was released by the Dolphins with a failed physical designation.