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New England Patriots Links 8/27/09 - James Sanders Leads the Secondary

<em>Patriots safety James Sanders</em>
Patriots safety James Sanders

Shalise Manza Young S James Sanders is the quiet leader of the secondary, and the "old man" of the group at 25.

"James is an excellent leader; he plays with a good level on confidence," Belichick said. "He's a very good, physical player, he's a tough kid. He's a very committed player, spends a lot of time in the classroom, studying, learning, watching tape, making sure he knows his assignments.

"I think he's a leader for any young player — forget young player, for any player — to emulate and follow. I think he's very professional and you'd like to have 53 players like James on your team in terms of his work ethic, his toughness and being a teammate. He's a high-character player."

Christopher Price Playing mind games often a no-win situation for rookies.

With roster spots on the line in Friday night’s preseason game against the Redskins, look for an overeager youngster to follow up a bad play with an even worse one that was borne out of an attempt to please the coaching staff. With younger players, when mistakes come, they come in pairs -- a missed tackle leads to blown coverage, a bad block will set the stage for a negative play.

"Trying to do too much" can sound like a good thing, but on a team that preaches the philosophy of team defense above all else, it can cause a series of breakdowns. If one player overcommits and another has to leave his own area to cover for his mistake, that creates an opening in the defense. Someone tries to cover that exposed area, and that leaves another problem.

"That’s the learning experience -- you can’t try and do too much. You just have to play your game and relax," [James] Sanders said. "You can’t let that get to you."

Erik Scalavino CB Leigh Bodden settling into his role.

"I’ve grasped it pretty well so far," Bodden stated. "But it’s a new team, new coaches, new everything. So, just being here in the OTAs helped me out a lot, and mini-camps and training camp. I got to know the coaches and what they want out of me in this defense. These are just steps, in the preseason, to get better going into the regular season."

"We’re coming together great. The OTAs were a great part of the cohesiveness that we have. To be together, train together, just being outside of football really helps because when you step on the field, you know what kind of guy you have and you can depend on him. So, I think we’ve gelled pretty well, so far."