During the first week of the regular season a spotlight will be shining on the defensive secondary of the New England Patriots. The team’s been rebuilding their secondary since 2009 through the NFL draft. Unfortunately injuries have slowed the process down but with the corps now healthy, they have a chance to prove themselves against the Tennessee Titans.
In 2009 the Patriots started the rebuilding process by drafting safety Patrick Chung. A second round selection, Chung was the first player chosen in a multiple year process. Though Chung has remained reasonably healthy throughout his first three seasons and performed reasonably well, he will be under pressure to achieve the potential the Patriots saw when they drafted him.
Devin McCourty had a slightly different start than Chung. Drafted in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft, McCourty made an astounding statement in his rookie season which ended with him being selected as All-Pro at cornerback. The rookie phenom was repeating his Pro Bowl form in 2011 before he suffered a shoulder injury after colliding with a teammate in November ending his season.
The Patriots continued their defensive rebuilding process in 2011 when they drafted cornerback Ras-I Dowling in the second round. Coming in with high expectations, Dowling’s rookie season ended after just two games. The rookie suffered a hip injury which forced the team to place him on the injured reserve list.
In week one against the Titans this young group of defensive backs will have their first chance to prove themselves and it’ll be a much easier start to the season than it could be. The Titans have a subpar group of receivers and will be missing their best in Kenny Britt who has been suspended for the game. While the Patriots had the league’s best offense in 2011, they also possessed one of the league’s worst defenses. And while their offense has improved, their defense has no significant changes from last season.
There will be several things to look at during week one for the New England Patriots but the most significant will be the performance by the team’s defensive secondary. The Patriots have worked hard over the past three seasons to rebuild their defense but in 2011 the secondary was the NFL’s worst. Going into the 2012 season, this young corps will be facing a weak group of receivers giving them an early chance to prove themselves.