Mike Wright was taken out of the Indianapolis Colts game late with an injury. That injury may take Wright out of the Thanksgiving game against the Detroit Lions. The Patriots released an injury report, despite not really having a physical practice- they basically stated what would have happened if there was a practice. Mike Wright was listed with a Neck/Concussion injury and that he would have not participated.
Rookie Brandon Deaderick stepped in to replace Wright on defense after the injury.
If Wright really has a concussion, then the Patriots will most likely sit him a couple weeks in order to make sure he's fully healthy for a playoff push. I have to believe that DL Myron Pryor would have been the first choice to replace Mike Wright, but his back injuries have hampered him the past couple of weeks. With both sub 4-3 tackles out (Wright and Pryor), the Patriots are forced to resort to their bigger linemen who are less able to generate a push and create pressure on the quarterback.
Deaderick stepped up against the Colts to play the last couple drives. Who is going to be asked to play against the Lions?
My thoughts after the jump!
Here are the four remaining defensive linemen who could play next to Vince Wilfork, other than Mike Wright and Myron Pryor:
Gerard Warren - Warren was a star player early in the season who has seen his time on the field decrease as the season's worn on. Is it time for his return to the field? He is one of the remaining players who can both defend the run, but also collapse the pocket and reach the quarterback. He has seen his playing time taken up by Deaderick and Brace, young players who are considered the future of the defense. Do the Patriots give the "old" man another shot at making a huge impact? Or do they give the ball to the younger players?
Brandon Deaderick - Deaderick was the player who took the field in place of Wright, after the injury, but was unable to generate much pressure. He's definitely a solid run defender, but he lacks the quickness and pass rush moves to reach the quarterback. He's played the 3-4 since college at Alabama so he lacks the 4-3 defensive tackle experience. He can definitely benefit from additional play time, but is he the best answer to replace Wright?
Ron Brace - Brace, like Deaderick, is a solid run defender who struggles rushing the quarterback. However, Brace benefits from having played the defensive tackle position at Boston College, while next to B.J. Raji. He thrived in that position and was able to wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks- and I have to think he'd do well next to Vince Wilfork.
Kyle Love - The last remaining player on the roster who is listed as a pure defensive tackle. Love is a rookie with no experience, but he's played the defensive tackle position and played just last season in college. However, Love was never a real threat to reach the quarterback and rarely made a play in the backfield. He's shown enough to be given a roster spot, but who knows how he'll perform on the field?
In my opinion, I believe that Ron Brace should be given the opportunity to take Wright's place on the 4-3 sets. Brace has the best combination of youth and experience at defensive tackle. While Warren has the most experience, I don't believe that he'd be much greater than either Deaderick or Brace, and I think the experience for the younger players is worth more than any difference in skill level. I don't think Love should play, due to his inexperience and his lack of production in college.
That leaves either Brace or Deaderick. Brace excelled at the defensive tackle position in college- Deaderick played 3-4 defensive end. Put Brace in and I believe that we'll see consistent pressure from the inside. Put in Deaderick and I believe that we'll see little pressure, but solid line play. I hope Brace gets the nod against the line on sub sets.