By most accounts, it was a productive rookie season for New England Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones.
The younger brother of UFC light heavyweight king Jon Jones amassed 45 tackles, six sacks and three forced fumbles as he helped his team reach the AFC championship game. Not bad, but the first-round draft pick can only get better, and he plans on heading to Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts in Albuquerque, N.M., during the offseason to train with his sibling.
In an interview with the New England Sports Network , the 22-year-old Chandler says that dabbling in MMA could help enhance his pass-rushing skills.
[Jon] has a boxing coach, a muay Thai coach and a jiu-jitsu coach,” Jones told nesn.com. “That helps a lot when you’re tugging, playing in the trenches. My biggest thing is I try to get my hands inside before blockers touch me so if I work on my hand speed, that’ll be a great aspect to add to my game.”
Chandler is hardly the first athlete to add MMA to his offseason regimen. Arthur Jones [pictured, left], the oldest of the ultra-gifted Jones clan and a defensive lineman on the Super Bowl-bound Baltimore Ravens, made the journey to New Mexico to put in some work – and help Jon prepare for his UFC 128 title bout versus Mauricio Rua -- in 2011. Heck, even former USC golden boy quarterback Matt Leinart worked mitts with Jay Glazer at one point in time – though there is no evidence those sessions improved his touchdown-pass-to-interception ratio in the NFL.
However, it is clear that Chandler has already thought about how to practically apply MMA training against some of the behemoths who line up across from him on Sundays. If his sack totals start to rise significantly during the 2013 season, he might have more than just the New England coaching staff to thank.