As excited as I was yesterday for the linebackers, I’m that much not excited about the defensive backs. Don’t get me wrong, there’s potential to get excited about, but until it’s realized potential it’s going to questions marks.
Shawn Springs (29) – Springs was signed almost right after free agency opened in an effort to bolster the secondary. Early indications were that he’d lost a step or two and would actually be used as a safety in the Pats defensive scheme. I don’t believe it and think that he’ll be playing against the other team’s #2 receiver.
Leigh Bodden (23) – The former Brown and Lion was also brought in as a free agent. His best years were playing under Lil Romeo in Cleveland where he played in a similar system as Belichick. Since he’s signed only to a one year deal, look for him to try and impress for a pay day after this season.
Darius Butler (28) – Bulter was projected on some draft boards as high as 23 with the Patriots first round pick. They waited and were able to nab him in the second. He’s very fast and word is, very smart. Let’s see if that translates to a starting spot on the roster. He should at least get time as the nickle that he could potentially use that time to move into a starting spot based on performance.
Jonathan Wilhite (24) – Wilhite is a second year man who really turned it on towards the end of last season. Enough to earn a starting spot? Some people have him in the mix to start. It’ll be interesting to see if he can leapfrog fellow second year man Terrence Wheatley (22) on the depth chart. Mike Richardson (35) and Jamar Love (38) are also on the depth chart more as special teamers than anything.
Brandon Meriweather (31) – The third year man from Miami has solidified himself as the starter in the defense. Now that Harrison has retired, can he pick up the slack as a defensive leader? After nabbing 4 INT’s last season can he build on that performance this year? It will be interesting how the defensive backs can flourish with the improved pass rush.
James Sanders (36) – Following Harrison’s injury last year, Sanders stepped into the role of starter and was serviceable for the remainder of the season. What will be interesting to see; will the Patriots top choice in the second round Patrick Chung (25) push Sanders or Meriweather for one of the starting spots? Probably not initially as he learns the system, but with Meriweather missing spring practices, he may emerge as a starter sooner rather than later. WR/DB Matthew Slater (18), Brandon McGowan (30), Ray Ventrone (41) and LB/S Tank Williams (26) are also in the backup/special teams mix.
We all hope that this group is better than the cast of castoffs that stunk up the backfield last year. With the better front seven, this should be better right from the word go. Tonight we get Pats against the Eagles. Can’t wait.