Some very bad and some very good news broke for the Patriots at around the same time this afternoon.
Today, the Patriots reinstated outside linebacker Derrick Burgess from the reserve/did not report list, promoting him to the active roster. To make room for Burgess, the team placed veteran defensive end Ty Warren on the injured reserve with a hip injury.
The news with Burgess is certainly positive. We don't know exactly what was going on with his situation, but we do know that he kept in touch with the Patriots organization as he mulled retirement. I don't think he would come back unless he was absolutely certain he would be ready to give 100% to the team.
If Burgess is ready to give 100%, then he becomes a big bonus for the Patriots pass rush. Heading into camp, I expected Burgess to start opposite Tully Banta-Cain in the 3-4 alignment. Now, I'm thinking Burgess goes back to his 2009 role as a top pass rusher in sub-packages and on third downs. Jermaine Cunningham has shown a lot as an every down outside linebacker and in pass coverage, so I think he may be the "starting" outside linebacker.
Although Burgess' presence could take away snaps from a young outside linebacker like Cunningham, it certainly gives the Patriots depth at the outside linebacker position, which is a positive. With Burgess in the fold, the Patriots have him, Cunningham, Banta-Cain, Pierre Woods, Rob Ninkovich, and Marques Murrell at the position. Murrell, Woods, and Ninkovich are presumably fighting for one or two roster spots.
While Burgess' reinstatement is a positive story, the team's loss of defensive end Ty Warren for the season is a very negative one. Ty Warren is the prototypical 3-4 left defensive end, and is one of the best run-stuffers in the business. Warren is under contract through 2012, but losing him is a blow both off the field/in the locker room, as well as on the field.
With Warren out, the Patriots will likely look to another defensive lineman with the same surname; veteran Gerard Warren. Gerard Warren played in Ty's spot with the starters last night, and he should hold that role in the regular season. Warren's injury makes it more likely that a young defensive lineman such as Kade Weston, Brandon Deaderick or Kyle Love make the squad. The Patriots could also use the presence of Ron Brace, who has yet to pass his physical and remains on the Active/PUP list.