By Bruce Allen, Patriots Daily Staff
As with many things, Patriots fans have been somewhat spoiled this decade when it comes to cornerback play. Ty Law and Asante Samuel were Pro Bowlers, Terrell Buckley and Tyrone Poole were pretty good supporting players. Randall Gay had his moments, I remember a big play or two from Terrance Shaw, and even Ellis Hobbs III gave us some solid play on the corner the last few years. Last year though, the cornerback spot was a major weakness for this team. The Patriots apparently recognized that and went about re-stocking the position this offseason.
What I like
New Faces – Shawn Springs and Leigh Bodden were the big signings of the offseason at this position, and this pair projects to be the opening night starters. No more Deltha O’Neal!
Young Guns – Last year’s rookies, Terrence Wheatley and Jonathan Wilhite both showed flashes of skill last season. They should be better this season. Rookie Darius Butler was someone Bill Belichick was impressed with at his Pro Day at UConn, he could be a second round steal.
Grizzled Vet(s) – Springs especially, and to a lesser extent Bodden, give the team veterans that have been around, and seen just about anything. If healthy, I think Springs could have the impact to the cornerbacks that Rodney Harrison had to the safeties in 2003.
What I don’t Like
Health Concerns – Springs has had some injury issues, Wheatley saw his season ended prematurely last year, bubble player Mike Richardson is another who has battled injuries in his career. If we’ve learned anything about cornerbacks from watching the Patriots this decade, it’s that the injuries come in bunches, and depth is a necessity.
Experience – Outside of Springs and Bodden, this is an inexperienced group. Wheatley and Wilhite are second year players, Richardson is in his third year, Butler is a rookie and the only other cornerback on the training camp roster is undrafted rookie free agent Jamar Love. (Edit – Love was waived the night before camp when Jake Ingram signed.)