Jones hopes to be a stronger sophomore

January, 21, 2013
1/21/13
2:13
PM ET
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- A promising rookie season for Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones came to a disappointing end on Sunday, as his team fell in the AFC Championship Game and he was limited to just two snaps due to an ankle injury suffered the week before.

[+] EnlargeChandler Jones
AP Photo/Stew MilneChandler Jones had a lot of praise for the Patriots' rookie class.
"It really hurt not to be out there with my team," Jones said on Monday. "It's very unfortunate that I didn't get a chance to play as much as I wanted to."

But while his season concluded sooner than he had hoped for, Jones said it was a positive learning experience overall.

"My rookie season was exciting," he said. "We won and we lost, but I learned a lot. I learned a lot this year."

Coach Bill Belichick has often talked about how many players see their most substantial jump from their first to their second seasons, and Jones will head to work with the Patriots' strength and conditioning staff to prepare for 2013.

"I learned a lot," he said about his impressions for next season. "It's offseason time now to get bigger, stronger and spend with some time with (strength and conditioning coaches) Harold (Nash) and Moses (Cabrera) and get ready for next year."

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Before he dives into a full workload, Jones will take some time to allow his ankle to heal. He's targeting overall improvement as a player leading into his second year.

"Just become a better player overall, not to get into specifics," he said of his offseason goals. "Just to become a better player."

He'll also soon make a decision on whether he'll attend Super Bowl XLVII to support his brother Arthur, a Ravens defensive end.

"I'm not really happy that we lost, but I'm very excited for my brother," Jones said. "Congrats to him."

In Jones, the Patriots have a defensive building block who will look to be an integral part of their pass rush going forward. He capped off his rookie season with six sacks, and was part of a strong overall rookie class that yielded three defensive starters in Jones, linebacker Dont'a Hightower and cornerback Alfonzo Dennard.

Jones praised his fellow rookies for their seasons.

"The rookie class, congratulations to the rookies, well not including me, but the other rookies," he said. "I feel like they had a great year. They all contributed equally: Alfonzo and Dont'a and Tavon (Wilson) doing what he does. I feel like the rookies did a good job as whole. They can only get better."

Earlier in the day, Belichick confirmed what everybody was expecting -- that he will be returning for yet another season at the helm with the Patriots, and he is now the NFL's longest-tenured coach.

Jones is excited for another year to play under Belichick.

"Coach Belichick is a strong coach physically and mentally," he said. "The way he spoke to us, he's going to come back even stronger, and I'm excited to be back here next year."
Field Yates has previous experience interning with the New England Patriots on both their coaching and scouting staffs. A graduate of Wesleyan University (CT), he is a regular contributor to ESPN Boston's Patriots coverage and ESPN Insider.

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