Scott Galvin/USA Today Sports

Why playing for Patriots has extra-special meaning to new DT Danny Shelton

Ryan Hannable
March 19, 2018 - 2:20 pm

Before free agency began last week, the Patriots swung a trade to acquire former first-round pick, defensive tackle Danny Shelton from Cleveland.

Shelton will provide depth to the Patriots' defensive line, while also making the unit younger, as he's just 24 years old.

Playing for the Patriots has special meaning for Shelton because his father, who passed away in 2008, is buried in Boston.

"The last time I was out here in Boston was 2011 for a family reunion," Shelton said on a conference call Monday. "My dad’s side of my family is Peruvian and we haven’t really been in touch with them during my childhood. In 2011 we had the opportunity to have a family reunion and we also had the opportunity to go up to his grave site, so that was the last time I had seen my dad’s grave site. It was really just heartwarming to be there. It was a crazy story because all of the cemeteries were closed and I couldn’t get a hold of anyone to help me find my dad’s grave. Luckily, my oldest brother has great memory and all I had to do was use FaceTime and show him where I was and he got me to my dad’s grave site and we were able to take photos and take him flowers."

"I’m just glad that we’re able to be closer to my dad now and to be able to play in front of him," he added.

Shelton, who stands 6-foot-2, 335 pounds, is known for his run-stopping ability. He admitted former Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork has been a player he's looked up to over the years, and even got to connect with him recently through his agent.

"Vince Wilfork is one of the greatest [defensive] tackles. For me, he’s someone that I still look up to even when he was with the Texans," he said. "I got the opportunity to reach out to him and kind of pick his brain and just learn a couple of tips from him. He’s been really responsive. He’s been a guy that has been really helpful this offseason and I’m looking forward to reaching out more and learning some more from him."

As for what he expects his role to be in New England, Shelton said he's willing to do whatever Bill Belichick asks.

"You know, honestly, I’m just going to go with whatever Coach [Bill Belichick] wants me to do," he said. "My best feature is stopping the run, so if he wants me to play at a specific position I’ll do it, and I’ll make sure I do my job for the team’s success."

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