On Sunday, the New England Patriots will take on the St. Louis Rams in the NFL’s annual London game. Injuries have stricken the Patriots defense once again which has caused one of this week’s NFL rumors that a returning offensive player may be forced to switch over to the other side of the ball.
Last season, wide receiver Julian Edelman was asked play defensive back due to the unfortunate amount of injuries to the Patriots defensive backfield. This week injuries have piled up again and just as he is returning from his own injury, he may be asked to do the same thing this weekend.
The Patriots have been rebuilding their defense through the NFL draft since 2009. Last season’s injuries forced head coach Bill Belichick to make an unusual decision asking Edelman to switch over to defense to help on the depleted side of the ball. Edelman did so and did a fine job at the tough request. He may have to do the same thing Sunday.
The Patriots have been hit hard by injuries all season. But while many of the team’s injuries have been on offense, now it’s the defense’s turn. Safeties Steve Gregory and Patrick Chung will be out for the second consecutive week. In addition, Ras-I Dowling, who missed almost all of 2011, was injured Friday and will be unable to play Sunday. That may force Belichick to make the request of Edelman.
It’s not the first time Belichick has done this. Less than ten years ago, Belichick famously asked wide receiver Troy Brown to play defensive back. Brown did so and became a fixture of the Patriots defense that helped the Patriots win their third Super Bowl in 2004. Edelman’s switch in 2011 was the second time Belichick had made the request of one of his players.
Edelman is returning from his own injury this weekend. The receiver surprisingly became the preferred second receiver in favor of Wes Welker at the beginning of the season. But in the team’s week three game against the Baltimore Ravens, Edelman left with a hand injury. The injury has kept him out since and his return may come with this request to help his team’s ailing defense.
The Patriots will likely have the same defensive starters as last week with Devin McCourty and Tavon Wilson at safety and Alfonzo Dennard and Kyle Arrington at cornerback.
But the depth of the Patriots defensive backfield has been weakened by injury. That may force returning receiver Edelman to help out on the other side of the ball. The decision whether or not to ask that of Edelman will be revealed on Sunday afternoon with the Patriots take on the Rams from Wembley Stadium in London.