Deatrich Wise’s next move? Opposing quarterbacks
FOXBOROUGH — Deatrich Wise Jr. wasn’t about to let a little rain — or a downright deluge for that matter — spoil his good time.
“I love practicing in the elements. It felt good,’’ the drenched defensive end said Wednesday after finishing up practice — the last 20 minutes or so of which was conducted in showers that ranged from light to monsoon-like. “It’s pretty fun.’’
Fun has been the name of the game for Wise, one of the Patriots’ summer standouts. The 6-foot-5-inch, 275-pounder with the long arms and size 18 feet has been a towering presence on the fields behind Gillette Stadium.
Wise started camp with a thunderous hit on Jeremy Hill during one of the first full-pads sessions and has continued to be a physical force during individual trench drills and off the edge during full-squad work.
He said early on in camp that his goal was to be a consistently disruptive force along New England’s defensive line. He has been polishing his moves against teammates for weeks and is eager to show his stuff against the Redskins in Thursday night’s exhibition opener.
“I’m very excited going into this game and finally being able to hit somebody else other than my teammates,’’ Wise said. “And we’re one step closer to the regular season, so I’m very excited about that.”
No matter how disruptive Wise is in camp, he never gets to hit the quarterback. That red, noncontact jersey might as well be a red stop sign. Against Washington, it’s full speed ahead.
“Oh, man, it’s great. I can finish rushes and hit quarterbacks, which is what I love to do,” Wise said with a wide simile.
Wise, who came on in sub packages last season as a situational pass rusher, said he has worked hard to expand his skill so that he can be an every-down player.
“It’s still up to the coaches where they want to play me and how they want to play me,’’ he said. “It’s my job to come out here every day and prove to the coaches that I’m trustworthy enough to be on the field.”
One area Wise is focusing on this summer is to get to a point where he is at ease enough to think less and react quicker on the field.
“That is something I wanted to improve on,’’ he said. “Make sure I knew the playbook and the grand scheme of things and to make sure I’m comfortable enough out there to just react.’’
When asked if he enjoys any particular defensive scheme better that another, he deftly thwarted the answer as if sidestepping an offensive tackle.
“What’s fun for me is winning games and sacking quarterbacks,’’ he said. “So that’s what I love to do.’’
Lending a hand
Patrick Chung is one of the most versatile players on the Patriots’ roster. The veteran safety has a unique skill set that allows him to play in multiple spots.
He has the physicality to match up with tight ends as well as the quickness and closing speed to cover slot receivers.
In addition, he’s a core special teamer. He has also dabbled in returning punts, a role he may assume more regularly — especially with Julian Edelman suspended for the first four games of the season.
Chung has taken a regular turn during punt return drills this summer, joining Edelman, Riley McCarron, Braxton Berrios, and as of late, Rex Burkhead.
“It’s cool. It’s fun,’’ Chung said. “You get the ball in your hands and do whatever you need to do, so it’s definitely fun and I’m going to continue to do it. I never know when my name’s going to be called, so it’s something I need to continue practicing just in case.’’
Chung has been practicing the skill since he was in college, and even returned one for a touchdown during his junior year at Oregon.
“I’ve always been working on it and [special teams coordinator] Joe [Judge] always makes sure I go out there in practice and do everything after practice just to make sure,’’ Chung said.
Burkhead, who returned punts at Nebraska but never as a pro, caught Judge’s eye when he caught one while leaving the field recently.
“Coach Judge thought I looked good, so he asked me to come and catch some more,’’ Burkhead said. “So, I was like, ‘OK, cool. Whatever you want me to do.’ ’’
The Patriots reached an injury settlement with guard Nate Theaker, leaving him free to sign with another team . . . Chung took the podium after revealing he lost a game of rock, paper, scissors with Stacey James, the head of the team’s media relations department . . . Thursday night’s game will be the Patriots’ 22nd exhibition tilt against Washington. The Redskins have played the Patriots more than any other foe in the exhibition season. New England leads the all-time series, 13-8.