With Patriots training camp set to open on July 24, CBSBostonSports.com will provide a positional breakdown at each spot on offense and defense. Today’s breakdown is in the secondary.
Major Players At Safety: Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon, Patrick Chung, Tavon Wilson
On The Bubble At Safety: Nate Ebner, Kanorris Davis, Shamiel Gary
Major Players At Cornerback: Darrelle Revis, Alfonzo Dennard, Brandon Browner, Logan Ryan, Kyle Arrington
On The Bubble At Cornerback: Justin Green, Daxton Swanson, Travis Hawkins, Malcolm Butler, Jemea Thomas
For years now, the Patriots’ defense — and in particular, the secondary — has been a sore spot. Ever since Asante Samuel bounced after 2007, the Patriots’ secondary has lacked a real game changer, someone who can singlehandedly affect the decisions made on the other side of the ball before every snap.
Now, Darrelle Revis is that guy.
Not since Ty Law have the Patriots employed a cornerback this talented, and Revis’ mere presence solidifies his spot and every position around him. Had Revis been the only addition in the secondary, the group would be looking strong, but the fact that Brandon Browner will also join the group after four weeks makes them even more formidable.
Alfonzo Dennard, presumably, will spend the first four weeks of the season as the starter opposite Revis, and it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Dennard plays well enough to hold on to that spot, thereby affording the Patriots some more flexibility with their use of Browner.
The Patriots would still have Kyle Arrington and Logan Ryan, who looked pretty good in his rookie year, available as well. For the first time in a long time, there’s reason to feel exceptionally positive about the Pats’ corners heading into a season.
At safety, the Patriots have one rock solid starter in Devin McCourty. He’s really developed at the position and figures to continue to take steps forward as someone whom Bill Belichick relies on fairly heavily.
Beyond McCourty, we shall see. Patrick Chung was, presumably, brought back into the mix for a reason, and it might be put up or shut up time for Tavon Wilson. The draft experts said the Patriots reached to get him with a second-round pick in 2012, and Wilson has done nothing to prove those critics wrong.
Ultimately, the Patriots’ thin safety corps makes headlines like this one look a little crazy. Still, while the Patriots may not be the No. 1 secondary in the league, they are a formidable group. And for the first time in recent memory, it’s safe to say in the summer that the secondary is a strength for the Patriots.
(At the very least, you can take it to the bank that the days of the Vince Youngs, Dan Orlovskys and Jason Campbells of the world throwing for 400 yards against New England are long gone.)
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