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Former WSU tackle Daniel Ekuale emulating Aaron Donald, learning new pass rush moves at Patriots’ camp

Aug. 11, 2022 Updated Fri., Aug. 12, 2022 at 8:12 p.m.

New England Patriots defensive tackle Daniel Ekuale takes on a Miami Dolphins lineman on Jan. 9 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Miami Herald)
New England Patriots defensive tackle Daniel Ekuale takes on a Miami Dolphins lineman on Jan. 9 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Miami Herald)
By Gage Nutter Tribune News Service

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – New England Patriots defensive lineman Daniel Ekuale is always looking for new pass rush moves to try out.

Through former Washington State nose tackles’ hunt for new techniques, Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald has been Ekuale’s biggest source of inspiration.

One of Donald’s moves he has worked on the most is a cross-chop.

“Someone I always watched play is Aaron Donald,” Ekuale said. “He is the best in the league. Even here, too, I always get techniques from other players and we learn from each other. Every day you have to learn something new.”

A cross-chop is when a rusher uses his inside hand to cross over and knock down the blocker’s outside hand, creating an opening against that opposing blocker’s outside. Ekuale said he has mixed the move in with power moves while pass rushing.

“I am still working on my craft,” Ekuale said. “Every day I have to come out here and work on my technique, footwork, hands. You always have to improve on something. Your stance, hands, footwork. You always have something to improve on. You never think you are good enough to play this game. You always have something you have to improve on.”

Ekuale spent a majority of his first season with the Patriots in 2021 on the practice squad, but was elevated to the 53-man roster eight times.

On Dec. 6, Ekuale had two tackles and sack in the Patriots’ 14-10 win over the Buffalo Bills. He signed a reserve/future contract with the Patriots on Jan. 25.

Ekuale has looked good during the team’s one-on-one pass rush drills during training camp.

“It’s a good drill for me to work on my technique,” Ekuale said. “I could get beat one day and then come in tomorrow and get better at everything I have to do. I never get complacent. If I get a good day, I have to come better. You have to stack good days. Never get complacent and work every day.”

If Ekuale makes the 53-man roster at the end of camp, he’ll have to wait to take the field as he is set to serve a two-game suspension to start the 2022 regular season. The reasoning for Ekuale’s suspension has not been announced or reported. Ekuale is still eligible to play in preseason games, but would have to be away from the team once the season begins.

Ekuale signed with the Cleveland Browns as an undrafted free agent in 2018 and was removed from the teams’ practice squad after receiving a four-game suspension for violating the league’s performance-enhancing substance policy.

Spending five seasons in Pullman, Ekuale totaled three sacks and 14 tackles for loss.

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