New England Patriots Links 4/23/12 - Patriots Suffering From Bi-Polar Disorder; Need to Draft Defense

Kyle Arrington tied for the league lead in interceptions last season (7), and is back working at it again in Foxboro.

Mike Rodak reports Devin McCourty and Kyle Arrington can't wait to have Ras-I Dowling on the field with them this season.

"It will bring a smile to all our faces seeing him back out there," McCourty said. "He's been working extremely hard all offseason just getting back out on the field, so I'm excited just to see him get back out there."

"High-character guy in the locker room," Arrington said of Dowling. "He's physical; he brings a physical element to our secondary. You can't teach height. He's tall. He gets those arms on you. Definitely looking forward to seeing what he can do."

With the NFL schedule for this season released earlier this week, McCourty said he is most excited to face his twin brother, Jason, a cornerback for the Titans, in the regular season opener.

"It'll be interesting. He's already trying to mess with my psyche. Hopefully he'll be ready to go," McCourty said. "We love to compete against each other, and hopefully a couple times we get out there on the field and have action on the field at the same time."

Kerry J. Byrne (Cold Hard Football Facts) Our Naughty Nurse finds the New England Patriots suffering from a bad case of bi-polar disorder: frighteningly good on one side of the ball, but seriously lacking anyone who instills fear in opponents on the other.

General off-season strategy/overview: The Patriots have been extremely active in free agency, having already signed 10 unrestricted free agents (as of April 21). Among these are five defenders but few stars. They’ve also continue to surround Brady with pass catchers, including Anthony Gonzalez and Brandon Lloyd, who led the NFL in receiving yards in 2010 (1,448) when playing in Denver for head coach Josh McDaniels – now back as New England’s offensive coordinator. But it’s obvious to anyone armed with the Cold, Hard Football Facts – New England does not get over its big-game hump without harvesting playmaking defenders.

Totally premature 2012 diagnosis: The Patriots, once again, are early off-season favorites to challenge for the AFC and Super Bowl championships. Barring a huge breakdown on offense, it’s very easy to see the Patriots repeating as AFC East champs for an incredible 10th time in 12 years. But the difference between being a really good team once again or returning to championship form will be determined by harvesting one or more game-breaking defenders in the draft or, if possible, in free agency.

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