Now that there is some poundage, dontcha think? Ron Brace and Vince Wilfork, rookie fighting for a job meets veteran nose tackle giant fighting for a better contract. While Vince sat out of early OTAs as HIS shot across the bow, the Patriots organization lobbed their shot in the form of a guy named Brace. That's one way to look at it. Another way to look at it is we're adding depth at a critical position in a 3-4 alignment - never a bad thing. I prefer to think of it as Mike Reiss explains:
Flexibility is one of the buzzwords of a Bill Belichick defense, and we saw the unit line up in a standard 3-4 but also work some four-man line. This has been commonplace, as the Patriots are a "multiple" defense.
Wouldn't it be kinda cool to see Vince Wilfork and Ron Brace lining up as tackles in a four man front? That's a lot of beef to move around. Not to mention giving Brace some valuable reps. No, I'm not saying we're moving to a 4-3; If you've been around long enough, our base defense is a 3-4, but the Patriots dabble with lots of different formations depending on what the offense throws at them.
It seems the departure of a blocking fullback in Heath Evans will not adversely affect us. No fullback? Let's just move the tight ends into the backfield:
Tight ends and their role in the offense. When the Patriots worked their 9-on-7 inside running drill, tight ends spent time in the offensive backfield in a lead-blocking role. This was expected with no pure fullback on the roster -- Heath Evans signing with the Saints in free agency – and it led to the following thought: When a team has versatile tight ends, it provides an offense with more options, and can stress a defense in the matchup game.
Depth at cornerback has been a MAJOR concern for the past few years, especially since the departure of Asante Samuel to Philadelphia. It's an even bigger concern now that Ellis Hobbs has migrated to the same team. Without actual game situations to evaluate, I'm not convinced we've made significant strides at corner, but statements like the quote below do make me feel better:
Jonathan Wilhite stepping up at cornerback. With veteran Shawn Springs not on the field, second-year player Jonathan Wilhite stepped into his left cornerback spot. Wilhite had an interception of quarterback Kevin O’Connell over the middle. Earlier in practice, safety Brandon Meriweather picked off a tipped O’Connell pass that was intended for receiver Shun White.
Since Michael Vick, quarterback-turned-dog-fighting-mogul-turned-ex-con-turned-unemployed-athlete floating about, just about every reporter on this green Earth is asking just about every head coach what his chances will be of ending up on said head coache's team. Belichick, in his usual evasive manner, said nothing:
"Michael is an outstanding player, you know, hasn’t played in a couple years," Belichick said following practice No. 1. "But right now, our focus is on our team and our player, trying to get the New England Patriots ready. That’s where my attention has been. But exactly where he is right now, I don’t know. "
Thanks Bill. That really sums it up for me. Am I surprised? No. If a reporter asked me the same question instead of Bill, I could've done my best Belichick impression and said just about the same thing. Of course, I'm must some schmuck who writes for a football site. Bill is, well...
Be careful what you ask for. Or, I should be careful what I ask for. I've complained bitterly about the lack of information during the offseason. I should know by now that it's pretty typical. That's when I start poking the hornets nest by calling Peyton Manning overrated (I don't actually think he is) or arguing about stolen flower pots with our compadres at Stampede Blue. Now that camp is in full swing, it'll be like drinking from a firehose. Be careful of what you ask for. I need to remember that.
And for those who get nervous when someone doesn't show up for a practice or isn't seen doing a drill, I give you this rather amusing quote from Ian Rapoport's new blog, Rap Sheet:
Before the Patriots first practice was five minutes old, the fact that receiver Randy Moss wasn’t on the field create, well, at least a murmur. Noteworthy, I’d say.
So where is he?
Good question, if I do say so myself. Of course, the answers aren’t as awesome as the question. There is still a second practice at 3:45 p.m., and it’s definitely possible that 81′ll be out there. Is this just a precaution to rest his legs?
Want a hint?
"They had the morning off," receiver Greg Lewis said. "The guys who were out there had to practice."
Yep, had the morning off. Chill gang, we're loaded.