BOSTON (CBS) — It has been years since the New England Patriots put a dominant defense on the field, but after the offseason acquisitions of Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, that could all change in 2014.
The Patriots now have a stacked secondary with a solid young trio of linebackers playing in front of them. Add in edge rushers like Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich, and the New England defense could be a force on Sundays.
But there are some concerns on that side of the ball, and they are right in the middle of the action on the defensive line. Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly are both coming back from season-ending injuries last year, and Sealver Saliga (hand) and Chris Jones (knee) are both sidelined at the moment. To add some more depth on the D-line, the Patriots went out and completed two trades this week, acquiring defensive tackles Ben Bass from the Cowboys and Jerel Worthy from the Packers (neither trade has been made official by the Patriots just yet).
Albert Breer of the NFL Network joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich on Friday to discuss New England’s depth on the defensive line, and said to expect more moves as the regular season approaches.
“If you look at the defense there is one problem there: Do they have the big men that they used to have. They have talented edge rushers, a good group of linebackers and a really good secondary. But do they have the guys in the middle who are going to be able to create those 3rd-and-9’s by stopping the run?” asked Breer. “You need depth there, and it’s clear looking at their moves this week that they see some concern there. My guess is as we get closer to cut-down day, we’ll continue to see activity there.”
Breer says that Wilfork has looked good in his comeback from a torn ACL he suffered last season, but there are still concerns about the run defense even with Wilfork back in the middle.
“I think Wilfork has been great so far. He’s surprising me; coming back off that injury is tough and all the credit in the world to him for coming back the way he has,” said Breer. “We’ll see with Tommy Kelly. The fact of the matter is one is 33 and the other is turning 33 during the season, so you need some depth there. You want to rotate those guys in and out.
“What I saw in Washington was a Redskins team that was determined to establish what they could do on the ground. They were successful doing that in the practices and then they ran for 183 yards in the game (last Thursday). It’s a preseason game so you don’t press the panic button, but there is a concern there,” said Breer. “I don’t think they did a great job stopping the run last year, either.”
Breer also touched on the rookie quarterbacks dominating the NFL headlines, and if the Patriots have any options with backup quarterback Ryan Mallett: