Ellis: 'It's been challenging'

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- It has been an up-and-down season for Patriots defensive end Shaun Ellis, who signed a one-year deal worth at least $4 million in August.

Ellis started the first six games of the season, playing in 40 snaps in a three-tackle performance against Dallas in Week 16, before seeing his playing time abruptly decline, limited mostly to goal-line defensive packages.

In recent weeks, Ellis has seen more of the field, making his first start since Nov. 13 on Saturday against Miami.

On Thursday, Ellis answered questions from reporters, one of the few times he has been interviewed since his role was reduced earlier this season.

"It's been challenging. It's been a little difficult. But just hanging in there," Ellis said. "Just trying to lend my hand when I can. When my number is called, [I] just go out there and play."

With the loss of stalwart defensive end Andre Carter to a season-ending quad injury, the team may continue to turn to the 12th-year veteran Ellis as the playoffs approach.

"In the end, I'm a pro. So I just go about my business as usual," Ellis said. "Once that time comes, I'm ready for it."