New England Patriots Links 7/27/10 - Crable on PUP; Questions on Defense

Pat Chung visited patients at Mass General Hospital last week.

Tedy Bruschi offers his thoughts on the significant change-up in linebackers and in the defensive backfield.

I think the combination of Jerod Mayo, Gary Guyton, Brandon Spikes and Tyrone McKenzie is a good group at inside linebacker. Look for all four players to get experience at both spots -- the "Mike" and the "Will." It's vital that the inside linebackers have experience at both inside spots. The reads and responsibilities can be very different and it's very easy for an offense to flip a formation to make the linebackers change their assignments to the other position. Think about a tight end that shifts from one side of the formation to another. If the linebackers don't move, the "Mike" now becomes the "Will" and vice versa. This is a tactic used by offenses to exploit young linebacking corps. At outside linebacker, the Patriots coaches are hoping that Jermaine Cunningham will be the answer on one side. Tully Banta-Cain can get it done on the other. Derrick Burgess, Pierre Woods, Rob Ninkovich and Shawn Crable all have their individual question marks on if they can consistently contribute over a 16-game season. So the development of Cunningham will be one to watch closely throughout training camp.

I think the safety position may be the strongest on the defense with Brandon Meriweather, Brandon McGowan, Patrick Chung and James Sanders. Out of those four, you have four solid players possibly starting for you over the course of the year. Let's see if Meriweather can build upon his Pro Bowl season. Patrick Chung is a player that I think picked it up very quickly last year. He has the desire to be a good player and is starting to realize what it takes to be a true professional. I think he has tremendous upside. 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.

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