The Patriots have looked thin at defensive end in training camp, with Jermaine Cunningham (2nd year) and Eric Moore (6th year) running with the top group as part of a four-man line. There was a significant drop-off in experience after Cunningham and Moore, which the Patriots addressed, in part, with the signing of speed rusher Mark Anderson (6-4, 255) on Friday.
Now comes veteran Shaun Ellis, a different type of end who has reached a one-year agreement with the Patriots pending a physical, ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reports.
At 6-foot-5, 290 pounds, Ellis is more stout than the team's current ends from a run-game perspective, but also has shown the ability to generate a pass-rush (72.5 career sacks). Ellis has played in both 3-4 and 4-3 schemes in his 11 seasons with the Jets (2000-2010). In the 4-3, his best fit has been as a strong-side end. He's also been utilized as an interior sub-rusher, an area where the Patriots are deep if Mike Wright and Myron Pryor are healthy.
So the durable Ellis, who played one of the best games of his career in the Jets' playoff win over the Patriots last year, brings some scheme flexibility to New England, which fits nicely in its "multiple" defense.
One of the interesting parts of training camp to this point has been the Patriots' usage of a more traditional four-man line with Cunningham (6-3, 260) and Moore (6-4, 268) at end, and how that stacks up against the run.
With Vince Wilfork (6-2, 325) and Albert Haynesworth (6-6, 335) in the middle, teams figure to have a tough time running inside. But the edges looked like a question mark. The 34-year-old Ellis, pending a physical, now gives the Patriots a different type of option at end if the team sticks with a four-man line.
It also adds some more spice to a Patriots-Jets rivalry that seems to intensify each year.