Last year, linebacker Marquis Flowers was fundamentally thrown into the deep end of the pool and told to start swimming.
Flowers was one of a few guys who showed up just before the start of the 2017 season. Dealt to the Patriots from Cincinnati last August 29, he was in the lineup nine days later for the regular-season opener against the Chiefs. A late arrival means you’re playing catch-up all season long, but Flowers was part of a group that included Cassius Marsh, Johnson Bademosi, Phillip Dorsett and Kenny Britt -- guys who were picked up either just before the season or in the middle of the year, and were forced to learn on the fly.
The 6-foot-3, 250-pound linebacker enjoyed some success in the system — primarily a special teamer, he also ended up seeing significant snaps on defense after the injury to Dont’a Hightower. Over the second half of the season, he played in at least 30 percent of the defensive snaps in every game except one, and finished the year with 23 tackles and a career-high 3.5 sacks.
In the eyes of the Patriots, it was good enough to warrant a new contract. But by his own admission, it was tough sledding for him all season long.