“I’m real excited just for the fact that I haven’t had a chance to be on the field yet,” Patterson said. “I’m really excited to see where I’m at and working it out from there.”
At this stage in his career, Patterson knows how to prepare for the rigors of a long NFL season. But only so much can be accomplished in practice, even one in which the players are hitting each other in full pads. Despite his experience, Patterson believes playing in preseason games is as important to him as it is to a rookie trying to earn a job.
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“It is hard in practice because you want to protect your team,” he said. “You don’t want to go out and hit your own guys and cause something to hurt your team. The conditioning is good, but it’s just harder because you can’t really tackle the guy how you really want to. You’ve got to protect each other. If anything, I would just say the tackling is a little bit different. You’ve kind of got to adjust on game day and go out there and start hitting.”
Patterson will turn 31 on Sept. 1. He’s played football for roughly two-thirds of his life. Last year, he played in 16 games with one start in his first season with the Giants. But each new season brings an adjustment period in which he gets re-accustomed to delivering and receiving blows in the trenches.
“You take about half the year off and then when you start in OTAs, you’re not necessarily hitting anyone,” Patterson said. “You’re going game speed but you’re not able to get real physical with each other. That’s what I feel like makes the preseason important; you kind of get all the little nicks out of the way. You get hit a few times, you understand how your body is working and stuff like that. I think it’s really important. It’s like knocking off the rust.”
Patterson said he will have personal indicators in the game that will tell him how far he’s progressed in his preparation for the regular season.
The veteran is also eager to fit in with the rest of the defensive linemen. The importance of communication is often stressed in discussions about the offensive linemen, but their defensive counterparts say it’s equally as critical on their side.
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“I think as far as the defensive players – (I) could probably talk about the offense, too - when it comes time to play hard, I think we’re going to step and play in harmony together,” defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul said. “Right now, guys are probably getting their technique down and seeing what they can do best in the game situation.”
Patterson has yet to line up in a game with new starting left end Mathias Kiwanuka, free agent acquisition Robert Ayers Jr. or rookie tackle Jay Bromley.
“I think with our D-line, we really make it open for everybody that comes in and is trying to play with us,” Patterson said. “We tell them, ‘Hey, we coach each other up.’ We don’t sit there and criticize and say, ‘Oh, you’re doing this wrong and you’re doing that wrong.’ It’s, ‘Just step this way,’ or, ‘Use your hands right here.’ Everybody is a coach at one point. That’s what I like about our D-line. I think we all take pride in wanting to help each other out and to make sure that we can all be on the same page, so going into game day we have a good feeling going into the game. We know we’re going to have each other’s backs and we’re going to be out there talking it up on our reads and stunts and stuff like that.”
With that kind of support, Patterson expects to comfortably step back into the mix after three weeks off.
- The Giants and Jets will square off for the 46th consecutive summer since the series began in 1969. The Jets won their 2013 meeting in overtime, 24-21. The Giants trail in the preseason series, 24-20-1, with the tie coming in 1972.