Love: Extension a 'blessing'

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Love: Extension a 'blessing'

Kyle Love's nose-to-the-grindstone approach has served him well the last two years.

The undrafted free agent was a backup at defensive tackle his rookie year. In 2011, he earned 13 regular season starts in 16 games played as an imposing presence against the run.

The Patriots rewarded Love's work with a contract extension last week. Instead of riding this year's 540,000 exclusive-rights free agent tender out into uncertainty, he's now signed through 2013 on a new deal worth almost 3.1 million.

"It's a blessing," Love said Sunday via conference call. "I just want to continue to work hard, play hard, and keep doing my role -- whatever the coaches ask me to do. I want to continue down that road."

The timing of the extension was likely influenced by New England's release of Jonathan Fanene. But that doesn't mean Love hasn't made a case all his own this preseason.

After joint practice, he had Saints guard Ben Grubbs talking on and on about his power.

He created plenty of problems (in limited snaps) for Philadelphia's offensive line in Game 2.

When the first team defense took the field last week in Tampa, Love was there. It's where he's projected to be all season.

To most, the 25-year old tackle has come a long way from Mississippi State -- his game is bigger, his wallet is bigger.

Love sees it as the same old grind.

"Nothing really changes for me. I just want to keep doing my job and getting better every day. Working harder, and playing harder and faster. I just want to continue doing what I've been doing."

Van Noy sees playing-time bump as he learns Patriots language

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Van Noy sees playing-time bump as he learns Patriots language

When Kyle Van Noy was traded to the Patriots in late October, he had a lot to learn. He needed to understand the layout of his new team's maze-like facility. He needed to adjust to a new locker room. He needed to adapt to a new home. 

He also had to become fluent in a new language.

The former Lions 'backer was inactive for two weeks before he was comfortable enough with the Patriots system -- and the coaching staff was comfortable enough with him -- to get on the field. He played 29 snaps against the Niners in first game with his new club, then saw 28 plays against the Jets. On Sunday he saw his role expand as he played 40 of a possible 51 plays, which was more than Shea McClellin (38) or Dont'a Hightower (33). 

"Kyle has done a great job of working really hard to acclimate to what we’re doing, and he has had to learn really fast as far as the system, the communication, the language," said defensive coordinator Matt Patricia on a conference call Tuesday. "It’s like when you go to a different system, offensively or defensively, a lot of times it’s just learning the vernacular and the verbiage . . . That’s a big part of it. Then getting more familiar with that kind of terminology and the communication is critical because there’s a lot of calls and adjustments, things like that that we’ve got to do on the field."

Van Noy was making some of those calls himself on Sunday as he wore the green dot on his helmet when Hightower was on the sidelines. Even with the added responsibility, Van Noy was able to play freely enough that he put together what might have been the best game of his three-year career. 

Used at the end of the line of scrimmage as well as in a more traditional off-the-line linebacker role, Van Noy was effective in defending both the pass and the run: He stuffed three Rams rush attempts, he recorded a quarterback hit that led to an incompletion, he drew a holding call, and he recorded an athletic interception when he tracked a wobbling Jared Goff pass that floated over the middle after Jabaal Sheard hit Goff's arm as the rookie released his throw.

After several of his stand-out plays, Van Noy was visibly excited on the field and later on the sidelines. It was the culmination of six weeks of work, learning as much as he could from a coaching staff that was eager to teach him. 

"He’s extremely prideful in his work and his approach to the game," Patricia said. "He’s very cerebral. He’ll ask a lot of questions. He really wants to understand what we’re doing and why, which is great. We’re trying to give him those answers and insight into kind of where some of this either came from or developed or situations like that so that’s really good."