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Patriots defense has been feasting on turnovers

Logan Ryan, playing in his first preseason game this summer, snags an interception vs. Carolinamike mccarn/AP/Associated Press

FOXBOROUGH — The Patriots are 3-0 in the preseason in large part because of the defense’s ability to create turnovers. That’s no happy accident, according to cornerback Logan Ryan.

“We’re continuing to get the ball, which is something that we’ve harped on, I think we’ve said time and time again,” Ryan said. “I think those turnovers are contagious, so that’s something that we’re trying to do and it’s showing up.”

Ryan is responsible for one of the Patriots’ six interceptions through three games, picking off Carolina’s Cam Newton last Friday in the first preseason game he saw action in.

Ryan had been dealing with an undisclosed injury through the first part of camp, and his return rounded out a secondary that benefits from having both starting cornerbacks back from last season.


“It’s been a lot of fun,” Ryan said. “I don’t know, the chemistry’s there but there’s always additions, each and every game.”

Defensive end Chris Long also noted the focus on creating turnovers.

“We’ve got a lot of good players and, you know, we focus on turnovers,” said Long. “That’s a good thing to be able to do, helps the team, helps the defense.”

Slater deal extended

The Patriots signed special teams captain Matthew Slater to a one-year contract extension Wednesday that gives him a two-year deal through 2017, according to NFL Players Association records.

The deal gives Slater a $600,000 signing bonus, salaries of $1 million and $900,000, plus $300,000 in per-game bonuses in 2017, and incentives of $100,000 and $150,000.

Slater is in his ninth NFL season — all with the Patriots — and has been named to five Pro Bowl teams.

Flowers blossoms

Injuries to Rob Ninkovich and Jabaal Sheard have been blows to the Patriots’ edge rushing corps, but the emergence of Trey Flowers has softened that somewhat.

Flowers is now healthy himself after knee and shoulder issues kept him off the field last season. He has made a strong impression through three preseason games with 14 tackles and 2.5 sacks (one of which caused the Saints’ Luke McCown to fumble the ball, which Flowers returned 17 yards for a touchdown).


Flowers has gotten to an opposing quarterback in each game so far. Instead of playing with a mind toward protecting himself, he wants to go full speed at full strength.

“I don’t really go out there looking not to get hurt,” he said. “That’s one of the things that will get you hurt. But just to go out there and play freely and not real timid and things as far as favoring one certain thing, has definitely helped me”

Giant absence

On Thursday night, the Patriots will face a Giants team not coached by Tom Coughlin for the first time since 2003, and that got even Bill Belichick nostalgic.

“A little bit, yeah, it does a little bit,” said Belichick. “All of the coordinators are still there, so it’s almost like him working in New York kind of grandfathered in, looking over the shoulder.

“It will be a little different not looking across the field and seeing Tom over there. I’m sure he misses us. He always did pretty well against us.”

Belichick also tipped his hand a bit on his feelings about the NFL preseason. Asked if he agreed with other coaches who say a shorter preseason would help teams avoid injuries, Belichick said he’d “let the experts in the league decide that,” but that joint practices are a helpful evaluation tool that most teams like having.


“Seems to me like most of the teams want more of that type of play and competition and opportunity rather than less of it,” Belichick said. “If you don’t want to play against somebody else, then I don’t know why you would schedule a few extra scrimmage days.

“But you should talk to the experts about that. We just play by the rules, we don’t make them.”

Back to school

Tom Brady will spend part of his suspension time at his alma mater, where he will serve as Michigan’s honorary team captain for its Sept. 17 home game against Colorado . . . Jimmy Garoppolo talked about his relationship with Brady on WEEI Wednesday morning. “There’s a little competitiveness in all of us, but at the end of the day we’re a team and we’re all trying to hope for the best for each other,” Garoppolo said. “I think Tom is sincere about that. But we’ll find out.” . . . Rob Gronkowski won the Ron Burton Community Service Award at the team’s gala Tuesday night. He was both grateful and true to self in his response. “It’s an honor to accept this award,” he said. “Who would have ever thought that five years ago, when I was on ESPN every weekend drunk, that I’d be accepting this award?”

Ben Volin of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Nora Princiotti can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @NoraPrinciotti