Kony Ealy played with some top-flight defensive linemen in Carolina, which allowed the situational rusher to maximize his opportunities on the field.
"One of the great things that I've been able to do in my career is just play off my teammates' intensity. I know Trey is a great competitor, he's a hard worker," Ealy said Thursday during his introductory news conference. "I've heard nothing but great things about him, and just being around a guy like that up here, I think it's really going to help develop my game just because the guy knows how to do things the right way."
It's funny that Ealy, who is likely filling a similar void left behind by departing defensive end Chris Long, is poised for a breakout season even if he's arguably surrounded by equal or slightly less effective front-seven talent than he was in Carolina. The Patriot mystique has a way of almost guaranteeing success and Ealy has fans in New England believing that we'll see more of the player who logged three sacks in just 23 snaps against the Broncos in Super Bowl 50.
The former second-round pick was no doubt underutilized in Carolina, playing just 624 snaps last season and perhaps the optimism will come from an increase in opportunity. Long, for example, played 117 more snaps -- a number that could rise this year if Ealy proves to be more effective in third-and-long situations. Rob Ninkovich played 566 snaps over 12 games.
"(I'm excited to) come and learn from the greats, learning how to take my game and bring it to the next level," he said.
This has to be an exciting time to be a Patriot. Expectations have never been higher and, theoretically, the deck has not been stacked with this level of talent in almost a decade. It has everyone believing that a band of exceptional castaways will reach their fullest potential in defense of New England's fifth Super Bowl title.