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Pats Secondary...

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  • RandyZ. Pierce
    Going into this draft I did not feel the Secondary was a primary concern. I was likely in the minority on this but it has me more comfortable than many with
    Message 1 of 1 , May 2, 2006
      Going into this draft I did not feel the Secondary was a primary concern.  I was likely in the minority on this but it has me more comfortable than many with the Pats lack of real pursuit into improving this in the draft.
      Certainly I would like to always improve every position and I remain concerned at LB that we have too big an uncertainty present.  So why not this level of worry with the Secondary?
      Our best player in the Secondary is Rodney Harrison and unfortunately he is a question mark at present due to the severity of his injury.  Brady spoke recently to affirm what many already know, Rodney Harrison was the MVP of the 2004 season.  Brady similarly reports great progress for Rodney which is encouraging but obviously until July we aren't going to be aware of his real progress and until September 10 we are likely to have some justified concerns.  If Rodney should not be able to return it will be a serious blow but we now know Hawkins can rudimentarily man the position.  By the end of last year he was playing acceptable within the system.  He will be challenged by Tebucky Jones who while previously a free safety for us has the potential to play very wellat Strong Safety for us.  He has the physical tools for the position and Belichick thought enough of him at the reduced price to have him here backing up the position and being a special team stud.
      At Free Safety Eugene Wilson was lost without Rodney.  His play was very disappointing for most of the season and then in the late rally he acknowledged his need to step up and did so with more emphasis on his role of player than on the 'stress' of trying to lead the group.  THis was a combination of Hawkins work, experience and probably scheme manipulation as well.  He ended the season with five games in which he showed he could and should be playing at the level we expect.
      At Corner we endured a rash of injuries as well.  A position with considerable depth became marred by injury and roster turnover.  No doubt we missed Ty Law though he'd been gone since his injury the year before but more notably from that last group we had Gay take an injury while running stride for stride with Steve Smith in Carolina.  Gay and Samuels had manned the corner with good but not excellent performance the year before and though he tried Gay never did get his ankle ready to play - he in fact forced the attempt because of need and did his play a disservice.  Gay will be an immediate improvement if healthy and there is little reason to believe his ankle will not now be healthy.
      Samuels was very disappointing and there is little excuse save perhaps the impact of Rodney.  When Tedy and Seymour returned that certainly made the work for the CBs improve but Samuels did not improve until the last five games.  Roster turnover can impact these guys but Samuels was just flat out failing on critical aspects of his game which involve when to jump and when to look back for the ball.  In those last five games he seemed to have all this corrected and given his stellar prior season and strong finish I see him as sufficiently talented to be part of the lunch pail team mentality which has served us so well.  He's not a shut down corner but has shown more than good enough talent and big game potential already.
      Ellis Hobbs was the surprise of last season.  Rodney Harrison said he believes Hobbs to be pro-bowl type talent if he can work hard enough and the signs last year were that he was ready to do just that.  He was our best corner for much of it and I expect to start as a much better than average performer while still not yet having proven or indicated shut down type talent.  He easily showed me he is starting quality on this team and I only expect improvements from last year.
      Hobbs, Samuels and gay represent what some like to term our 'midget' mistakes.  In the new era of officiating the illegal contact, speedy and quick corners are the crucial aspect and Belichick is ready for this change with this trio.  They are not ideal but work well enough within our system to do the job.  Teams will throw many more passes as receivers are given more freedoms and there is much more judgement ahead but learning to avoid the automatic first downs is going to impact allt he secondaries.
      Chad Scott is the more physical corner with the size to match up when that is required.  He had the better pre-season showing but was also victimized by injury.  Certainly likely to get flagged more than Hobbs and less than Law, he has something to add which I feel is equal to most of the draft prospects available when we were selecting.
      Eric Warfield arrives with a world of talent and a few serious off-field concerns.  He is saying the right things to entice the staff but really there is no way to know if he's the first hyear Corey Dillon or the Ricky Williams.  His talent is there but dependingon him is a risk at best - a calculated risk but likely one which still puts him ahead of Starks whom is addition by subtraction.
      This groups is not the Steel Curtain but they are designed into the team role and there are enough bodies there to work with the 3-4 pressure we provide and make it a successful group.  There were not many bodies taht would have challenged them for playing time when we picked and certainly not so much as to replace the impact Maloney and Johnson are likely to have on the team.  We could have gambled on some late round 'finds' or we could gamble on the crew which already knows the system has shown they can play within it enough for two superbowl wins already.  Ideally Harrison comes back to cement the group and if he is unable we are dramatically worse - such is the nature of injuries and hopefully they are enough without him to work with the other defensive and offensive benefits.
      I'm glad for our day 1 trio and while there are things I think remain question-marks, corner is lower on that than linebacker, wide receiver and if Light or Koppen aren't ready, offensive line.
      Go Pats!
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