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  1. jmt57

    jmt57 Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    With McCourty signing his contract, the Pats enter training camp with eight cornerbacks.

    • #23 Leigh Bodden - 6-1, 193 - Age 29, 8th season
    • #28 Darius Butler - 5-10, 190 - Age 24, 2nd season
    • #32 Devin McCourty - 5-10, 193 - Age 23, rookie
    • #24 Jonathan Wilhite - 5-11, 185 - Age 26, 3rd season
    • #22 Terrence Wheatley - 5-9, 183 - Age 25, 3rd season
    • #27 Kyle Arrington - 5-10, 196 - Age 24, 2nd season
    • #43 Terrence Johnson - 5-9, 190 - Age 21, rookie
    • #41 Ross Ventrone - 5-8, 190 - Age 24, rookie
    Jeff Howe of NESN breaks down the Pats' cornerback position.

    Led by Leigh Bodden, Patriots Secure at Cornerback With Just One Spot Still Up for Grabs - New England Patriots - NESN.com

    Position Battle to Watch: With the potential cutoff at five cornerbacks, the battle between Arrington and Wheatley could possibly determine the shape of one player's career. Bodden, Butler, McCourty and Wilhite are all safe. Arrington leaped past Wheatley last season because of his dominance on special teams, and Wheatley, a 2008 second-round draft pick, was inactive 12 times (10 times after not appearing on the injury report), including the playoffs.

    During spring practices, Arrington and Wheatley rotated with one another between the defensive starters and the scout team, which indicated that they were in direct competition. The Patriots kept six cornerbacks last season and could very well do so again in 2010, but if the line drops to five, it promises to be a good competition for that final spot.

    Hot Topic: Butler, who was a second-round pick in 2009, had a great string of spring practices and stood out as much as any defensive player on the field. He has clearly emerged as the starting left cornerback opposite of Bodden, and Butler adds some speed and jump to the cornerback position. He's solid at reading routes and closing on the ball, but he's got to prove he is strong enough to compete with bigger, more physical wide receivers. Butler was often pulled in favor of Wilhite against such receivers last season, and with Brandon Marshall now in Miami, there will continue to be an emphasis for Butler to improve in that area.
     
  2. jmt57

    jmt57 Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Tedy Bruschi on the Pats' corners: Tedy Bruschi and Mike Reiss break down the New England Patriots heading into training camp - ESPN Boston

    At cornerback, I feel confident with Leigh Bodden on one side. Out of Darius Butler and Devin McCourty, they should be able to find someone they feel comfortable starting opposite of Bodden. You need three good corners to play good defense in this league. With Bodden, you have one. If Butler makes positive strides, you possibly have two. You're also hoping a rookie can contribute. That's a lot to hope for, but you still have a chance to have three good corners.
     
  3. jmt57

    jmt57 Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Mike Reiss takes a bried look at the defensive backs: Camp Countdown: Young DBs - New England Patriots Blog - ESPN Boston

    Why it’s a top issue: The Patriots have veteran Leigh Bodden returning at right cornerback, but the left side will primarily be a competition between Darius Butler (2009 second-round pick) and Devin McCourty (2010 first-round pick).

    Historical perspective: The last time Bill Belichick was relying on such youth at left cornerback was 2005, when Asante Samuel stepped in as a full-time starter in his third season.

    Xs and Os thought: With Bodden, Butler and McCourty the projected top players at the outside cornerback spots, it should allow Jonathan Wilhite -- a 2008 fourth-round draft choice -- to focus primarily on slot duties. That's a better fit for Wilhite.
     
  4. strongside

    strongside Third String But Playing on Special Teams

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    At this point the biggest battle to just make the team is between

    Jonathan Wilhite - has had the most extensive playing time but really what were the options. Some good some bad here. Has to make a jump this year and really not much on ST's.

    Terrence Wheatley - is third in the race right now. Gotta stay on the field. I still think with his speed he could be an effective returner

    Kyle Arrington - love this guy hard nose physical, huge on ST's. Can he play CB consistenly in this league?
     
  5. mgteich

    mgteich PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    So, the top four corners are our starting corners, our nickel back and our dime back. Given the increasing importance of the passing game in the league, all of these positions are important. IMHO, we are well-set with the four that we have.

    Presumbaly, we will carry four safeties, although three has been mentioned.
    ============

    The OPEN question is how to use the addition roster spots. How good a defensive back do we need as the #5 and/or #6 corner.

    With one injury at corner, who is the dime back? How important is that?

    With two injuries at corner, who is our nickel and dime?

    Should we have 10 defensive backs? Should the other two be special team specialists like Arrington and Lockett and Slater.
    =============

    This is the kind of planning that goes into the selection of the last few players on the roster.
    =============
    MY CHOICE would be to have 10 defensive backs, one being a REAL corner who could be a dime or nickel if their were injuries, and a special teamer for the last spot (instead of a 7th DL).
     
  6. jmt57

    jmt57 Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Richard Hill from Pats Pulpit on Jonathan Wilhite:

    Patriots Roster Prediction #37: CB JonathanWilhite - Pats Pulpit

    Past Role: Easy target for opposing QBs. Wilhite is an average #3 CB or excellent #4 CB who was thrust into a #2 spot in 2009 because either lack of ability or lack of skill with his fellow cornerbacks. As a rookie in 2008, Wilhite wasn't superb, but he emerged as the "#2" by default ...

    Predicted Role: Hopefully, Wilhite will be pushed down on the depth chart, where he belongs ...

    Summary: Wilhite makes the team due to his experience and his value as a depth player. He actually showed signs of regression from his rookie to sophomore year, but that can be attributed to his greater role on the defense. He's not fit to be a starter, but can help out on defense. This should be the first season where Wilhite plays from a spot on the depth chart where it fits his actually ability.
     
  7. RayClay

    RayClay Pro Bowl Player

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    I think Wheatley has better potential than Wilhite if healthy which he never is. Arrington could make it mostly for teams, maybe.
     
  8. mgteich

    mgteich PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I agree 100% with your assessment.

     
  9. jmt57

    jmt57 Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Eric Scalavino of patriots.com has us Meet the Rookies: CB Devin McCourty

    "He picked things up so quickly, said (McCourty's high school football coach) Karcich. "If he wasn’t playing, he’d be coaching. He’s extremely football smart. He’s like a coach on the field. That’s probably the first time I’ve ever trusted a sophomore to check coverages for us. But he could handle that.”

    "When I think about Devin, the first thing that comes to mind is not his athleticism," he insisted. "He was just an awesome, awesome kid. A team player. It was never about him, it was always about the team."

    "I think it's critical to get someone you can trust, on and off the field. They're part of the chemistry of the team, and you can't underestimate what that means to the success of the team," said Karcich.

    "With young guys, it's hard to measure, but I think Devin will make a huge impact year after year after year in New England. He's a company man, does everything that's asked of him, and always says and does the right thing. He won't get up on a bench and start yelling and screaming to motivate his teammates, but his actions will show his leadership."
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2010
  10. jmt57

    jmt57 Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Tom Curran of Comcast SportsNet New England says Patriots Secondary Should Be First Priority.

    First the bad news: The secondary rotation was a work in progress all year. First, it was Leigh Bodden and Shawn Springs at the corners with Brandon McGowan and Brandon Meriweather at the safeties. Then it was Bodden and Wilhite. Then it was Bodden and rookie Darius Butler. Then it was Springs and Bodden again. ...

    No matter how much it got shaken up, the secondary was constitutionally incapable of making big plays at moments of import. The team finished with 18 picks – pretty good, right? Not when you look at who and when they came. Butler’s three picks came against Tennessee, Tampa Bay and Houston. Two of Meriweather’s five came against Tampa. Bodden had five and three of them came against the Jets when Mark Sanchez took a special liking to Leigh for some strange reason. One of the picks was hauled in by Randy Moss on a Hail Mary ...


    But Curran does see hope for this unit: Additionally, there is legitimate talent back there. The Patriots were smart in getting Bodden re-signed in the offseason because he was the most capable player in a below average group last season. Butler, a second-rounder in 2009, has terrific ball skills and quickness; and the addition of Devin McCourty, the rookie first-rounder from Rutgers, should eventually give the Pats the kind of long cover guy they’re going to need against Brandon Marshall, Braylon Edwards, etc. I’ve been a Jonathan Wilhite believer – he seems to have very good technique – but he needs to make a jump in terms of breaking up passes instead of just being on the scene. Terrence Wheatley, a second-rounder in 2008, remains unproven.

    In summary Curran states that (b)ut all that stuff is projection. The evidence submitted last season is what we have to go on, and until we see otherwise, the Patriots secondary is a serious tender spot to this team’s hopes of returning to the elite.
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2010
  11. signbabybrady

    signbabybrady Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

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    IMO this position Solid if not a strength (to be detrined by developement).

    two most likely scenario's IMO

    1) Bodden is a solid starter a noch or two below pro bowl
    Butler improves on a rookie year in which he showed flashes and developes into close to what Bodden is give or take a notch.
    Whilhite is OK in the slot and hopefully a defined role alows him to be better than what he has shown.
    Mccourty who know what we get out of him and he could push Whilhite or he might be just a special teamer as he developes
    Past that we could keep 6 which would be arrington and wheatly or maybe wheatly gets cut.

    2) Bodden is a solid starter a noch or two below pro bowl
    Either of the highly drafted CBs from this or last turn into a gang buster
    The other makes a more then solid nickle (if the above was butler then Whilhite could still beat McCourty for the nickle role)
    Whilhite as the four would be ideal.
    Past that we could keep 6 which would be arrington and wheatly or maybe wheatly gets cut.


    Certainly there are a lot of variables but based on what we saw from Butler and what you expect out of a 1st round rookie I think the above seem likely.

    For fun just imagine what will happen if all of the DBs we have drafted all show the promise you would expect. To compound on this escercise assume only Chung, Butler, and McCourty develope into what you would expect combined with Bodden and Merriweather playing at the same if not slightly better than last year.

    Basically there are a lot of questions in the secondary but a ton of potential to fill those questions and I really think there is enough talent for this to be a strength of the team. Because of the variables involved this will be one fun position to watch.
     
  12. jmt57

    jmt57 Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Some eye-popping stats by McCourty during his college career, thanks to Richard Hill via Pats Pulpit.

    What was Hoodie thinking with Devin McCourty at 27th?! Value, value, value. - Pats Pulpit

    Rerouted receivers away from 41 pass attempts, as the opposition completed 36-of-92 throws he was involved in (39.13 percent) for 212 yards and one touchdown, an average of 5.89 yards per pass completion and 2.30 yards per pass attempt (pass attempt total was the lowest for any major college starting cornerback in 2009) … Those statistics do not tell the true story of his shutdown ability, as 38.89 percent of his tackles made on pass plays came from missed assignments by other teammates …

    Against his main pass coverage assignments, the right cornerback limited those receivers to just 14 catches on 41 passes targeted to them (34.15 percent), good for 96 yards, an average of 6.86 yards per completion and a miniscule 2.34 yards per pass attempt

    Made 19 third-down stops vs. the aerial attack and two others vs. the ground game, as he posted 31 hits in run support, stopping those runners twice at the line of scrimmage and 11 other times for loss (both solos and assists) while holding those ball carriers to 84 yards (2.71 yards per catch)
     
  13. jmt57

    jmt57 Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    On his website, Darius Butler says he is prepared for competition with Devin McCourty.

    Darius Butler

    "I’ve worked hard this off-season and in OTAs and I’m prepared to have a good camp and hopefully a good season. It’s time for that hard work to pay off. There will be a lot of competition at my position, including Devin McCourty, our first round pick. Nobody has solidified anything in the secondary as far as I know. We have a lot of young guys with a lot of ability.

    Competition is something that everybody looks forward to at this level. You want to go up against the best and come out on top. It’s a good thing that you have to compete with the guys on your own team to win a spot so you can go out there on Sundays. It’s good for the team.

    I’m just ready to get out there on the field and play."
     
  14. Leave No Doubt

    Leave No Doubt PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    This entire article is a great read! I don't want to go OT from the topic but this is one of Tedy's best, lots of stories and observations in addition to the CB situation. 'Nuf said on that :) To the bolded tho: Is he right? My brain is still on vaca, when was the last time we had 3 good CB's at once :bricks:

    If Butler's up to the task that would be HUGE.
     
  15. jmt57

    jmt57 Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Richard Hill of Pats Pulpit predicts Kyle Arrington will make the roster due to his special team play.

    Patriots Roster Prediction #45: CB Kyle Arrington - Pats Pulpit


    Past Role: Arrington was promoted to the main squad in Week 9 and has been a special teams demon ever since. His primary role was on punt returns, where he was one of the best gunners in the league. He finished the season playing 8 games and tied for the team lead with 18 tackles.

    Arrington wasn't asked to play cornerback during the season, due to his low spot on the depth chart, but with proven players like Leigh Bodden, Shawn Springs, Jonathan Wilhite and, to a lesser extent, Darius Butler and Terrence Wheatley, all in front of him, it's clear that Arrington wasn't brought up to the main squad to play defense. Arrington is a special teamer and excelled at his job last season.

    Predicted Role: Arrington should thrive as the gunner again this season. I expect that Arrington will be paired across from a player like Terrence Wheatley, Bret Lockett or Devin McCourty to provide an excellent special teams group. Arrington should put up high numbers with a full season's time, as opposed to joining the team mid-way through the year. He should be one of the best players on the Patriots special teams unit and maybe even one of the best in the league.
     
  16. QB12

    QB12 2nd Team Getting Their First Start

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    Unless he has significantly improved, look for opposing QB's to throw to whichever receiver Wilhite is covering.
     
  17. jmt57

    jmt57 Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Unlike many, if not most on this forum, Hill predicts Terrence Wheatley will also make the roster.

    Patriots Roster Prediction #50: CB Terrence Wheatley - Pats Pulpit



    Past Role: In his rookie season, Wheatley saw time against the San Diego Chargers (got burned by Vincent Jackson for 72 yards on 2 receptions and 3 passes, but participated in 17 snaps), the St. Louis Rams (didn't have a ball thrown his way in 20 snaps) and the Indianapolis Colts (swallowed Marvin Harrison whole, 2 passes attempted, both defended, then injured his wrist). This means that he showed enough coverage skills that quarterbacks didn't try and throw in his direction that often.

    Wheatley recovered over the off-season, but something must have been wrong and he dropped down the depth chart, behind Free Agent pick-up Shawn Springs, fellow 2008 Draftee Jonathan Wilhite and 2009 Draftee Darius Butler. Wheatley didn't get on the field until Week 3 and he was given the job of covering Roddy White. Similar to his Vincent Jackson game, he was thrown at 3 times and gave up 2 receptions for 21 yards. He didn't see much of the defense for the rest of the season.

    Predicted Role: Wheatley will make the roster because the Patriots need depth at cornerback, in case of injury. If the Patriots use their Joker defense more (only one player on the line of scrimmage), the defense might opt to use more linebackers or more defensive backs. Should one of the top defensive backs be injured, Wheatley will provide extra depth.
    He'll also emerge as a kick returner as Matthew Slater doesn't make the final cut.

    Summary: Wheatley will barely make the roster and will be at the top of "possible players to let go" when Welker returns from the PUP list. He'll primarily be a special teamer and his skill as a cornerback gives him a roster spot over Slater.
     
  18. jmt57

    jmt57 Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    National Football Posts's Matt Bowen asks Is The Lockdown Corner A Luxury Item?

    He is of the opinion that shutdown corners are rare, and are not necessary for a defense to succeed.

    "But, you don’t need a corner with the skills of the Jets' Revis to pressure. Just yesterday I broke down a complex blitz scheme from the Saints defensive playbook under Gregg Williams—a coordinator who uses pressure as a weapon. Does he have the best talent at CB? Not really. Solid play and accountability, but not a player who can take away a Randy Moss or Larry Fitzgerald every snap.

    Defensive schemes in the NFL have shifted to the point where corners don’t have to cover routes that have three different breaks. With six and seven-man pressures (and even eight-man pressure at times), corners can react faster, take more chances and rely on the pressure to allow them to make plays. You can get by with second tier players at the position because of this.

    Does that mean that a player like Bailey isn’t wanted or isn’t a big part of the game plan? No, but I would call them a luxury. A great thing to have (for big money) that can create endless possibilites, but they aren’t a necessity to play winning defense.
    "
     
  19. jmt57

    jmt57 Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Jeff Howe of NESN thinks Darius Butler's offseason has put him in the driver's seat as a starting cornerback. Personally, I didn't think there was much debate, that it is essentially his job to lose.

    Can Darius Butler Emerge as Starter at Cornerback Given Talent, Strong Offseason? - New England Patriots - NESN.com

    "Butler had a tremendous string of offseason practices, and he was being used almost exclusively as the Patriots' starting left cornerback, opposite of Leigh Bodden. Butler was one of New England's best performers during a month of organized team activities and minicamp, which totaled 15 practices (seven of which were viewed by the media).

    If Butler held a slight edge on cornerbacks Jonathan Wilhite and Devin McCourty for the starting job in May, he really widened that margin with his string of spring performances. Butler was a playmaker at practice -- granted, they were conducted without pads -- blanketing receivers in coverage, knocking away passes and pulling down interceptions. More than anything, he displayed the closing speed that made him a high-end cornerback prospect in the 2009 draft. ...

    If Butler performs when the intensity heats up next month -- and then, obviously, in the regular season -- the Patriots can be confident about their cornerback of the future.
    "
     
  20. jmt57

    jmt57 Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Mike Reiss answers a question about whatever happened to our former cornerbacks of the future, Wheatley & Wilhite.

    New England Patriots Mailbag: Running back situation a hot topic - ESPN Boston

    Q. Aloha Mike. Whatever happened to the Terrance Wheatley & Jonathan Wilhite combo of cornerbacks? They were supposedly the up-and-comers but now it seems that Darius Butler is the top CB opposite Leigh Bodden. Where does this put Wheatley?

    Reiss: I think Wheatley is going to have a hard time making the club if all the cornerbacks stay healthy. I think a player like Kyle Arrington, as a fifth corner, adds more value because of his special-teams abilities. As for Wilhite, he looks like their top slot corner right now. I see him on the club, but restricted to slot duties if everyone is healthy.
     
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