The Patriots are running a little thin at the safety position and have been shopping around for additional players. Pat Chung is ready to go, Brandon Meriweather is playing ball, and Sergio Brown has entered the starting rotation due to his versatility at both strong safety and free safety. Apart from those three players, the Patriots have James Sanders who just recently returned to practice after having sat out most of camp, and Bret Lockett who is now injured. As a result of the lack of depth at the safety position, the Patriots signed hometown boy James Ihedigbo.
Ihedigbo grew up in western Massachusetts and attended UMass Amherst. He went undrafted and was picked up by the New York Jets where he played for four seasons. At 6-1, 215 lbs, Ihedigbo brings a lot of size and physicality to the safety position and claims that he models his game after Rodney Harrison. He hits hard and has had success rushing the quarterback, having picked up 3 sacks this past season out of a reserve role.
Apart from rushing the quarterback, Ihedigbo is a successful special teams player with the majority of his tackles coming on special teams. Coach Belichick should have some fun with Ihedigbo coming out of the secondary and could throw a couple additional wrinkles into the defense.
However, while Ihedigbo is a feel good story as he returns home, he was still a low impact every down player in the Jets' secondary, which means that there is a fair chance that he could be injury insurance and not a long term solution. He should have a shot at making the final roster, but don't be surprised if he just adds depth for camp so another Danny Woodhead-esque disaster hit doesn't happen to a potential starting safety.
In other news:
The Patriots signed LB Ricky Brown, the former Oakland Raider, who should push Tracy White, the injured Jeff Tarpinian, and the surprising Niko Koutouvides (almost spelled it correctly the first time!) for the special teams linebacker on the roster. Brown also started at linebacker for a couple seasons, so he's capable of stepping on the field in a pinch.
Former Jets DE Shaun Ellis is removed from the PUP list, which means that he should now be an active participant for the rest of camp. It will be interesting to see the veteran impact on the young roster, especially due to the great logjam of talent on the defensive line. At least three of Myron Pryor, Mike Wright, Ron Brace, Darryl Richard, Brandon Deaderick, Gerard Warren, and Shaun Ellis will not be on the final roster, which means that the Patriots will be forced to balance current talent with expected future performance.