Last summer, the Patriots training camp use of Troy Brown at cornerback drew some perplexing looks and even some criticisms from observers. But the Patriots coaching staff once again came out looking smarter than its critics when injuries forced Brown into a regular defensive role and he more than held his own while helping the Patriots to a second straight world championship.
But Bill Belichick doesn't want to get into the habit of turning veteran wide receivers into nickel cornerbacks, which is why, after cutting Ty Law for cap purposes, he has set out to add depth to his secondary, particularly at corner.
The latest addition to the defensive backfield is former Steeler Chad Scott, a 1997 first-round draft pick (24th overall), who has battled injuries throughout his career, but has been a solid defender when healthy.
Scott, 30, started 88 of the 91 games he played for the Steelers in eight seasons and posted 375 tackles to go with 19 interceptions. The 6-1, 202-pound corner missed his second season in the league back in 1998 with a torn ACL and has suffered nagging injuries since, missing time with a fractured thumb, finger tendon surgery and a quad injury in the last three years. He also missed three games with a knee injury in 1999.
His best seasons came in 2000 and 2001 when he had back-to-back five interception campaigns and reached his two highest single-season tackle totals with 78 and 61. He started 15 games in each of those seasons followed by 12 in 2003.
Last year, Scott started the first six games before the quad injury sent him to the sideline. He missed nine games before returning in a reserve role behind veteran Willie Williams. His contract terminated by the Steelers in late February.
Scott joins veteran Duane Starks as newcomers to the Patriots cornerback stable along with rookie draft pick Ellis Hobbs. Published reports indicate that Houston cornerback Aaron Glenn has received permission to seek a trade with three teams including the Patriots, but it appears the Cowboys have the inside track for his services.
The Patriots now have eight cornerbacks on the roster in Scott, Starks, Ellis, Asante Samuel, Randall Gay, Tyrone Poole, Hank Poteat and Ike Charlton. They also have five safeties in Rodney Harrison, Eugene Wilson, Dexter Reid, Guss Scott and James Sanders.