BOSTON (CBS) – Organized team activities are underway at Foxboro, so to talk some Patriots, 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich had on Ben Volin of the Boston Globe Thursday morning.
It’s no surprise, but Volin is paying close attention to the cornerback battle given the mass exodus that took place this offseason.
“Cornerback is by far the most unsettled position right now. I think it’s got to be pretty unprecedented for a Super Bowl team to then ditch its top four cornerbacks from the previous year,” Volin said. “They are starting over, more or less, at that position.”
The hole left behind by the four aforementioned players has Volin thinking the Patriots will employ a totally different style on defense.
“There is certainly not a No. 1 cornerback on the roster; there’s a whole lot of No. 2’s and 3’s. You just kind of shake them up and sort them out. It could be a weekly thing and who’s got the better matchup,” Volin said. “I definitely see this team playing a lot more zone this year. Forget the press-man stuff; that really only worked with Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner. You’ll see a lot more safe zone, cover-2, cover-3 and that nature in limiting the big play.”
The dearth of talent at the cornerback position leaves a lot of opportunity for some of New England’s recent signees and younger players, and it’ll be up to them to maximize that opportunity.
“I think Malcolm Butler is in line for a big uptick in playing time this year. He only played about 18 percent of snaps last year, but we all saw in the Super Bowl he has some pretty phenomenal skills — not only on that interception, but throughout the fourth quarter he made some unbelievably athletic plays,” Volin said.
“Logan Ryan is in position to get an uptick in playing time. The two new guys, Bradley Fletcher and Robert McClain, they weren’t exactly wanted back by their old teams, but Bill Belichick obviously sees something in them that he wanted to bring them aboard. The names competing for the fifth spot right now are Justin Green, Dax Swanson, Darryl Roberts and Eric Patterson. Nothing against those guys, but they are a bunch of no names,” Volin added.
Volin believes New England will be looking for a veteran cornerback to trade for in August. Trades don’t happen often in the NFL, but if there’s one person that pulls them off with the most regularity it’s Bill Belichick. (See: Aqib Talib, LeGarrette Blount, Tim Wright, Akeem Ayers, Jonathan Casillas)
Listen below for the full discussion