FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Chandler Jones had one primary goal when he joined the New England Patriots' mediocre defense as a first-round draft choice. He wanted to gain the respect of the veterans.
He and fellow rookies Dont'a Hightower and Tavon Wilson did that throughout training camp, then made big plays in the Patriots' 34-13 season-opening win at Tennessee Sunday.
Now, defensive end Rob Ninkovich says, they have to keep doing it.
Against the Titans, Jones had a strip sack and Hightower recovered the fumble for a touchdown. Wilson had an interception in the end zone for a touchback. The Patriots' top three draft picks this year already are helping a defense that allowed the second most yards in the NFL last season.