There's been a lot of good discussion regarding the merits and foolishness of playing Darrelle Revis on one side of the field, as opposed to letting him cover the opposing team's best receiver for the full game.
This leads me to pose the question: how would feel if the Patriots used Revis in the same way that they used Aqib Talib?
Keep in mind that Talib, while earning the reputation of a shadow corner, only covered the opposing #1 receiver on 53% of his snaps. He shadowed a receiver in just seven of his 13 games. In fact, Cleveland Browns' cornerback Joe Haden led the league with 65% of his snaps against the opposing #1 receiver, which might be a shockingly low figure to digest.
But that's how Talib was used. Blanketing the opposing #1 for every snap of every game just doesn't happen. By keeping Revis on one side of the field during camp, they're just allowing him the same benefit that they granted Talib.
First, Revis is an excellent man-to-man cornerback. However, plenty of that benefit comes from his instincts; it appears far more simple to say "stick with your man" versus "drop into this zone." What zone? Where do I drop? Revis is going through the early forms of schooling so he can understand how the Patriots secondary functions when they're not playing man- which is more than you'd might expect.
Second, Talib wasn't a shadow from day one. In fact, he stayed on the left side of the field when he first joined the team, only allowed to shadow the Texans' Andre Johnson and flash some potential. Last season, Talib covered the traditional #1 receivers, like Vincent Jackson, A.J. Green, Jimmy Graham, Demaryius Thomas, Andre Johnson, Josh Gordon, and T.Y. Hilton. We can throw in the Falcons game where he covered Julio Jones for the first half, and then Roddy White for the remainder.
But when the team played against the Bills, Jets, and Dolphins (which are six games, for those counting), as well as the Panthers and Ravens, Talib wasn't a shadow. He covered multiple different receivers and matched up based upon the scenario. The team even opted to play Kyle Arrington on the Dolphins' Mike Wallace.
So what if the Patriots use Revis in a similar fashion as Talib? They can have him in man-coverage against the traditional #1s. Looking at the schedule, Dwayne Bowe of the Chiefs in week 4 might be the first traditional player for Revis to blanket. If not Bowe, then the Bengals' Green in week 5.
I stand by my original statement: If Revis stays on one side of the field, it's not wasting his talent. When it comes to matching up well against opposing teams, there are opportunities to use Revis that are more obvious than others.
However, when it comes to the start of the season and Revis is kept on the left side of the field for the first four games, don't be surprised. That's just using Revis the same way the team used Talib.
And that also means when Green comes to town, Revis Island will be open for business- and no one will be able to argue with that.