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Trey Flowers ready for Falcons' 'athletic' O-line

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HOUSTON -- Sunday's Super Bowl is billed as a tussle between two teams with fascinating offenses and very little pass rush to stop the onslaught.

Despite Atlanta housing the league's sack leader in Vic Beasley, his 15.5 takedowns were part of a defense that amassed just 34 sacks on the year, tied for 16th in the NFL with, you guessed it, the Patriots.

New England pass-rusher Trey Flowers, though, thinks people are wrong to call New England a low-wattage outfit when it comes to messing with opposing signal-callers.

"I think that's false, but that's something for them to say. To make a story, things like that," Flowers told me Thursday. "You can really just turn on the film and see how disruptive -- how we get after the pass, how we get after the quarterback."

After seeing almost zero action last year as rookie due to a nagging shoulder injury, Flowers came on down the stretch in his second season, piling up all of his team-leading seven sacks since Week 8.

"I think it's just about getting the opportunity to work on my craft and rise and get better during the week and season," Flowers said. "I just assess it to hard work."

The Patriots have never faced Dan Quinn's version of the Falcons, but tape study reveals an Alex Mack-led front five that poses plenty of obstacles.

"You're definitely dealing with a great offensive line that has protected (quarterback Matt Ryan) very well throughout the season," Flowers said. "They're very experienced. I guess you could say they're a little more athletic than a lot of offensive linemen that we face. Guys do a good job of staying in front of you, good mechanics with their hands and things like that. It's going to be a good challenge."

A few other items from Thursday's visit with the Pats:

1. Speaking of Flowers, linebacker Dont'a Hightower went out of his way to praise the second-year defensive end. "Ever since he got here, he was a hard worker. He had that year setback and he did everything in his power to get back: What you see is a hell of a football player."

2. Danny Amendola is thrilled to be playing a Super Bowl in Houston. Growing up just outside of town in The Woodlands, the Patriots pass-catcher said his favorite thing about Texas is "the Southern hospitality."

"Everybody here is so nice ... everybody's here to open a door for you," Amendola said. "It's just a nice atmosphere."

3. Amendola also weighed in on Lady Gaga, who will play the halftime act, saying: "I respect her. She's an artist."

He won't be listening to the show, however, telling reporters: "I'm probably going to be stretching at halftime. You know, getting my muscles ready for the third and fourth quarter. But I TiVo the game at the crib, so I'll catch up on halftime then."

4. Spending the week with New England, the overall impression is one of a team completely at peace. From Bill Belichick to Tom Brady to the last guy on the roster, everyone I spoke with exuded total calm heading into Super Bowl LI. That's not always the case, but this franchise has been here before -- and it shows.

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