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Training Camp Positional Preview - Secondary

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  1. PatsFans.com Article

    PatsFans.com Article In the Starting Line-Up

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    Training Camp Positional Preview - Secondary
    By: Steve Balestrieri

    This season will be a big one for McCourty who shined in his rookie season only to stumble badly in 2011....

     
  2. KontradictioN

    KontradictioN Do you even lift? PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Good article. The key to this secondary is two-fold, IMO: McCourty returning to his 2010 form, and Dowling staying healthy and playing at a level to where we could push Arrington back to the slot. However, in order for McCourty to return back to his 2010 form, he'll have to become at least efficient in playing man coverage. From what I saw last year, McCourty's greatest weakness was his (as it looked) fear to turn his head around downfield and look for the ball. He has the speed and all of the tools to be good in man coverage, but he needs to learn to look for the ball. No doubt playing in mostly zone since college and then his first year in the NFL didn't help that situation. Hopefully Boyer spends a lot of time with him in training camp. Dowling is the second biggest piece. He has the size and flashed promise (to my eyes at least) in the early going in 2011. If he's fully recovered and he can continue showing that promise, he should be able to push Arrington back to the slot. Should this happen, the Patriots defense will be VASTLY improved in the secondary already (and this is without even considering the situation at left and right safety).

    At safety, we have Chung and then we have everyone else. Personally, I'm not high on Steve Gregory. People say that he was playing out of position last year, but he just didn't look good in the amount of Chargers games I watched (which, admittedly, isn't as many as it used to be). We don't know what we're going to get out of Wilson. However, I can't remember the last time a rookie safety started for us under Belichick from Week 1. Ebner looks like a special teamer as of right now and is a project. Sergio Brown, as a defender (and not a special teamer) is garbage. Ihedigbo is best suited to be a back-up in case of injuries. And Josh Barrett didn't really show much last year prior to being injured. To me, that leaves Will Allen and Steve Gregory competing for the starting role next to Chung. Allen used to be a good cover corner, but has aged. That would make his move to safety all the more likely. It would appear, though, that this will be one of the more interesting TC battles to watch (with the other being Koppen vs. Connolly on the O-Line).

    In all, the Patriots at least have more depth this year than they did last year. Most of the success will hing on health regardless, but if the injury bug does hit again (which it tends to do with us year in and year out), at least we won't be depleted to the point where Julian Edelman's services are required on the defensive side of the ball on game day.
     
  3. signbabybrady

    signbabybrady Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

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    I believe that would be Eugene Wilson though I think it was actually from week 2 of his rookie year.

    My take on the secondary is as follows.

    Strength: McCourty and Chung - Both have plenty of room for improvement this year and both clearly have shown the skill to lead the secondary talent wise and as captains. I think Chung has been more steady while McCourty has flashed a much bigger ceiling. IMO the secondary will be as good as these two players.

    Weakness: Who plays safety next to Chung. I think this will be a mixed bag especially early on With multiple guys filling the role. I have faith that Allen, Gregory, and Wilson will wind up being better than what we had last year and we still have one of last years option in Ihedibo to hopefully be no more then depth and STs.

    The rest: Arrington played really well last and hopefully we can shift him back to the star where he has played well in the past. In order to this we need Dowling to pick up where he started off last year and stay healthy. Which then leaves Moore and Dennard rounding out the group along with some STers who will be fighting amongst themselves for limited STs spots and depth spots. I think one of Dennard and Moore will be CB4 and possibly 5 but STs will effect the 5th spot greatly.

    I made some distinctions above between CB and S but I think the lines between the two will be blurrier then ever with this team this year given that McCourty, Allen, Moore, Wilson play both CB and S. Arrington can play inside or out and almost all of the safeties are interchangeble free and strong as the system dictates.

    Summation this secondary can range from better than last year to vastly improved given the feasabilty of Chung and McCourty playing better than last year and Gregory, Allen and/or Wilson being a better group of Safties not named Chung from last year. Add a Healthy Dowling and a wildcard in Dennard and there is so much room for improvement.
    IMO Arrington getting 7 picks like last year is probably the only spot you might not be better (shouldn't be worse) as I doubt he gets another 7+ but I also think the 7 picks made him look better then he is last year which isnt a dis as I think he is a very solid player and my point is he is very likely to play at a very similar level but not get 7 picks out of it.
     
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