One of the most interesting and hotly contested battles of Patriots' Training Camp will be Corner Back. With 8 players vying for 2 starting positions, this is going to be a fun one. The departure of Asante Samuel threw everything into a tailspin, or so our rivals would hope. I don't believe so and here's why: Ellis Hobbs. Ellis, considered the weaker of the 2007 starting CBs, was "targetted" throughout the season. Come to find out he was legitimately weak - he had an injured groin and shoulder. Another unfair observation? Do tell. Ellis was burned in the Super Bowl by Plaxico Burress for the game winning TD. Horsepucky. The injured Hobbs was left alone with a Top 5 WR and got beat. Where the heck was his backup? Where were the safties? Nowhere to be found. Why, on earth, do you leave Plaxico Burress covered by 1 guy...in the Super Bowl...inside the 20?
Alright, enough crying over spilt milk. With 8 corner backs, someone will have to go. NFL teams can have an 80 man roster during training camp, but must cut down to 53 for the regular season. The Patriots are at 77 and will be fine for camp, but will have to ditch 24 players. I'm guessing at least 1, maybe 2, will come from the corner position. Here's how I see it breaking down:
Ellis Hobbs - Ellis is the man. In my mind, a guaranteed starter unless something goes horribly wrong, like being put on PUP at the start of the season. With 4 years experience, all of it with the Pats, he knows the system better than anyone else.
Fernando Bryant - Coming up on his tenth year, Fernando is the most experienced of all the players at this position, but is a first year Patriot. Mike Reiss thinks Fernando will be a top contender for the second CB position, but only time will tell. I think he gets the nod.
Mike Richardson - If you didn't know who Mike was, not your bad. He spent the 2007 season on the PUP. At Notre Dame, Mike had an excellent career and as a senior, was thought of as a leader for the DBs on the team. I think he gets another year to prove himself.
Lewis Sanders - At 6-1 and 210 lbs, Lewis is the largest of the corners. With 8 years in the NFL, Lewis could add some much needed experience if the young acquisitions don't come up-to-speed fast enough.
Antwain Spann - Antwain has been moved from the practice squad to active duty a number of times. With his varied success on the team, I see him at risk and one of the players most likely to be cut.
Jason Webster - Playing only 1 2007 game for the Bills (most likely due to injury), Jason's chances of a permanent roster spot seem slim. at best. A solid player at the beginning of his 8 year career, I see his roster spot in jeopardy.
Terrence Wheatley - He's super fast and can double as a kickoff returner, so I see Terrence hanging around and possibly doing some things for the Pats. If he can come up to speed as an NFL CB, his quickness could turn him into a great ball hawk. This is a rookie draftee to watch.
Jonathan Wilhite - Of the young dudes drafted this year, I think Wilhite may be one of the most vulnerable. To gain a roster spot, he'll have to shine on special teams, but I think, at 5-9 185 lbs, he's small for this role. So isn't Ellis Hobbs, but he has more experience in the system and has proven himself.
Here's my final breakdown classified as starter, backup or sub-packages, vulnerable: Ellis Hobbs, Fernando Bryant, Mike Richardson, Lewis Sanders, Terrence Wheatley, Antwain Spann, Jason Webster, Jonathan Wilhite