Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Patriots Preview Part 2 of 3

This part two of a three part series covering the three phases of the 2010 Patriots. Today we will look at the defensive side of the ball. They look to get younger and more physical a year after they were often pushed around by teams than ran the ball(read Ravens in AFC Wild Card game).

Here is a look at my predictions for each position for the base 3-4 the Patriots will play this year.

Left DE: Ty Warren- Fighting a serious undisclosed injury to his hip early on in camp. If healthy look for a big year as he picks up the slack as a leader of the defensive line along with Wilfork.
NT: Vince Wilfork- After signing his new deal, Wilfork has no reasons to not continue to be one of the best nose tackles in the game.
Right DE: Gerard Warren- The former third overall pick by the Browns is a low risk high reward pick-up by the Pats. If he displays the talent that made him such a high pick, Warren could be the pass rush the team desperately needs. If not, look for Damione Lewis and Myron Pryor to replace him quickly.
OLB: Tully Banta-Cain- TBC already has been named the leader by his hooded coach. Throughout camp, Banta-Cain has been heard encouraging competition at the outside linebacker position as it needs a boost to provide a pass rush to make the defensive scheme effective.
MLB- Jerod Mayo- The 2008 AFC Rookie of the Year continues to grow and mature as he becomes a leader on defense. Look for him to have another Pro-Bowl season and get this defense back to the physical form of the Super Bowl winning teams.
MLB: Brandon Spikes- Spikes has been called an interesting player to coach by Belichick. That is a very good sign. If Belichick is interested, it means Spikes has been doing things that catch his eye. The days with Gary Guyton as your starting middle linebacker could be over. Still look for Guyton to see serious playing time as Spikes grows into an NFL linebacker.
OLB: Jermaine Cunningham- This is the weakest position on the defense. Rob Ninkovich was the starter at the beginning of camp but lost his job in practice to Cunningham who appeared to do nothing great. This is not a good sign for Ninkovich or the Patriots as they need to get some production through the position. Look for the Patriots to explore options here such as bringing in ex-Bill Aaron Schobel.
LCB:Darius Butler- Butler has been having a very good camp so far and looks to grow into a corner the Patriots can trust to leave alone against some very good receivers especially if they need to blitz to create pressure.
FS: Brandon McGowan- The UMaine product won the job in camp last year and has appeared to hold onto it over the younger James Sanders. Both will see significant playing time in the coming season.
SS: Brandon Meriweather- Meriweather continues to grow into the leader of the secondary as he is the longest tenured starter back there. He needs to continue to grow and turn into safety QBS shy away from due to his ball hawking ability aka turn into Ed Reed.
RCB: Leigh Bodden- Bodden looks to build off his team-leading 5 ints give the coaches more flexibility in their blitz packages.

Top Back-ups

DL: Damione Lewis, Mike Wright, Myron Pryor, Darryl Richard
LBS: Rob Ninkovich, Gary Guyton, Eric Alexander, Pierre Woods,Tyron McKenzie
DBS : Jonathan Wilhite, Terrence Wheatley,Pat Chung, James Sanders, Devin McCourty,Kyle Arrington

Big name might get cut: Ron Brace(failed physicals), Terrence Wheatley, Jonathan Wilhite

Sleepers to make team:Marques Murrell, Brandon Deadrick,Brett Lockett

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