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Patriots Links 7/22/09 - Hall of Famer Andre Tippett to Speak at The Hall

<em>Patriots safety Patrick Chung (25) leaps for an interception during an OTA practice on May 27, 2009 at Gillette Stadium.</em>
Patriots safety Patrick Chung (25) leaps for an interception during an OTA practice on May 27, 2009 at Gillette Stadium.

Andy Hart discusses why Patrick Chung may have a greater impact this season than Darius Butler.

I think the reason Chung is expected to have a greater impact is twofold. First, according to Coach Belichick he comes from a very complex, diverse pro-style defense at Oregon in which he played a key role for his entire career. He’s already done a lot of things he could be asked to do in the pros. He also has great experience making calls and adjustment in that scheme. But maybe more importantly the Patriots don’t have a ton of depth at safety. Beyond projected starters James Sanders and Brandon Meriweather there isn’t a lot there. Chung will be competing with returning injured veteran Tank Williams, newcomer Brandon McGowan who missed nearly all of last season in Chicago with an injury and special teams ace Ray Ventrone. Chung could easily be the team’s third safety and that would likely equate to significant reps on defense in Belichick’s multiple defensive back sets.

Butler, on the other hand, faces far more competition at corner with veterans like Leigh Bodden and Shawn Springs as well as returning sophomores Terrence Wheatley and Jonathan Wilhite. Butler could have a nice preseason and still be the team’s fifth corner. In fact his greatest chance to contribute may come on special teams. In the end finding a role for yourself is as much about who’s ahead of you on the depth chart as it is about a player’s own development. Just ask Matt Cassel.

John Czarnecki asks if Tom Brady's return means the Patriots win and win big?

Well, the Patriots figure to nurse Brady into playing shape this summer, but Bill Belichick has bigger concerns. Can Laurence Maroney prove he's durable enough to hold off ex-Jaguar Fred Taylor at running back? Maroney has been full of excuses the last couple of seasons, but his shoulder should finally be healthy. And what happens if LB Tedy Bruschi retires or simply slows down? Yes, Jerod Mayo is very good, but Bruschi knows the system. The bottom line is that New England's defense, particularly the secondary, is in full transition.

Czar's Prediction: The Patriots barely win the AFC East and Brady falls well short of 50 touchdown passes.