By: Ian Logue
The loss of veteran Leigh Bodden certainly surprised Patriots fans this afternoon, but the tough part now will be how New England deals with his absence this season.
After being placed on injured reserve with what is being reported as a “torn rotator cuff”, the Patriots are now placed in a position where they’ll see a rookie and second year player attempt to try and handle whatever is thrown at them this season. Literally.
Patriots cornerback Leigh Bodden (PHOTO CREDIT: Icon/SMI)
Prior to the news it was 2nd-year defensive back Darius Butler and rookie Devin McCourty battling to play opposite Bodden, and now with one exhibition game to go they find themselves in the lead to take over both starting roles.
One good point brought up by Bill Barnwell of Football Outsiders on Twitter, is the fact that with Bodden being lost for the year, New England is the first team to put two defensive starters (the other being defensive Ty Warren) on IR before the regular season since the 2003 Arizona Cardinals and 2000 San Diego Chargers, and it didn’t work out well for either team. Those two teams finished 32nd and 29th in points allowed respectively, with the Cardinals finishing 4-12, while San Diego finished 1-15.
The good news is that the difference between the Patriots and those teams (to avoid the “doom and gloom” scenarios) is that neither of those two teams had someone the calibur of Tom Brady, nor the quality of receivers in Randy Moss or Wes Welker.
Still it will be a challenging season with what is now a limited depth chart, with Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com pointing out that New England is now down to just Jonathan Wilhite (3rd year), Kyle Arrington (2nd year), and Terrence Wheatley (3rd year) rounding out this position, with Wheatley likely breathing a sigh of relief after today’s news gives him a greater chance of earning a roster spot.
The downside is they’re not very deep, which could potentially mean they’ll be on the lookout for whoever becomes available after teams make their final cuts and get down to the NFL 53-man limit on September 4th.
Needless to say we’ve seen a plethora of young players take advantage of an opportunity and go on to great careers as a result. Hopefully we’ll see yet another one emerge after today.