BOSTON (CBS) — It’s not exactly breaking news to say that the Patriots’ defensive backfield has some problems. Big ones. However, there could be some improvement on the horizon.
The Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe talked with Toucher & Rich on Thursday morning, and he said the Patriots ought to give rookie Alfonzo Dennard a chance to start at cornerback.
“I think it’s a really interesting story line developing on the right side there,” Howe said. “Dennard went in and played well, and he played well in limited duty a couple of weeks ago when he made his NFL debut. He’s a physical presence, he plays with some confidence and I think at this point it’s really worth seeing what he can do.
“Kyle Arrington has done a nice job for them since he showed up in 2009 in various capacities, but I think the Patriots are seeing some bright spots in Dennard through a game and a half. And I think it might be worth giving him a starting shot.”
And with the Jets coming to town with their 30th-ranked passing offense, this Sunday could be an ideal time for Dennard to see some more playing time.
“Getting back to these Jets receivers — they’re just not good,” Howe said. “So what do you really have to lose in trying out the rookie?”
Speaking of young defensive backs, what is the deal with Ras-I Dowling? Will the 33rd overall pick from 2011 ever make an impact for this team?
“It’s one of the biggest mysteries following the team this season. This is a guy that you expected to come in and start at right cornerback, and he just hasn’t,” Howe said. “He struggled in the opener in the first half against the Titans, and then really we haven’t seen him again. I’m fairly confident it’s not a health issue. Maybe they just completely lost confidence in him.”
Regarding the rest of the game, Howe said the Patriots are the clear favorites heading in.
“I think on paper this game favors the Patriots in so many different ways, but you don’t have to get too creative to find ways that the Jets could probably win,” Howe said. “Take a page out of Russell Wilson’s playbook and just throw the thing as far as you can and hope that one of your guys comes down with it or you draw a pass interference penalty. I think the difference between the Jets and the Seahawks in that regard is that the Jets’ receivers just aren’t as good and they’re definitely not as big.
“I think the Patriots are going to have to continue to shoot themselves in the foot to lose this game, and I think Rex Ryan’s going to have to have his best game. I just don’t know if his best game is good enough to beat the Patriots.”