Sometimes the mighty do fall, which is the case with Alfonzo Dennard and his role for the New England Patriots. Dennard once had one of the brighter futures when it came to NFL cornerbacks, but has now seemingly been demoted to the fourth cornerback on the depth chart.
This is a role that Dennard is familiar with, as he started last season as a reserve cornerback. That was because Dennard was a seventh-round pick out of the University of Nebraska. However, many scouts had Dennard pegged as a second-round talent. Maybe he would have selected there had he not allegedly punched a cop in the face. Nevertheless, Bill Belichick took a gamble on him.
The gamble seemingly paid off in the early going. Dennard eventually rose to the position of starting right cornerback and formed quite an outside duo with Aqib Talib. At the end of the 2012 season, one could have argued that he was one of the better no. 2 cornerbacks in the league.
Things have not been the same for him this season. The first 10 games or so were easy enough as Dennard played pretty well on the outside. Then, he had some sort of meniscus procedure on his knee and was never the same.
Eventually, Matt Patricia decided that Logan Ryan would be a better option on the outside. Dennard could have been moved to the role of slot cornerback, but there was no way that Patricia was going to demote Kyle Arrington, no matter how badly he performed.
So, Dennard’s role is very murky as of now. Patricia mostly calls for a nickel defense, which involves three cornerbacks. It would be best if Dennard got in at slot cornerback, but Patricia is not going teach him a new position at this point. That means that Dennard will probably be limited to the four-cornerback dime defense, provided that he is healthy enough to play on Saturday.
Philip Alexander is a New England Patriots writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @steely0906, “like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.