Late Friday, the Patriots announced the signing of veteran safety James Ihedigbo. The need for help at that position has been evident throughout training camp and the preseason, as the safety roster is dangerously thin. New England had reportedly worked out two other veteran safeties in the past week, but chose instead to sign Ihedigbo, formerly of the Jets.
It's a homecoming for the 6-1, 214-pound Northampton, Mass. native and former UMass product. He entered the league in 2007 as an undrafted rookie free agent with New York. Ihedigbo has totaled just 11 defensive tackles in 37 NFL regular season games, plus 25 special teams stops.
While it remains to be seen what his arrival means as far as shaking up the Patriots secondary, it does, at least, provide some much-needed depth where help was sorely needed. After losing Bret Lockett to a thigh injury against Tampa Bay this past Thursday night, New England was forced to bring in wide receiver Buddy Farnham as an emergency safety to play alongside Sergio Brown and spell starters Brandon Meriweather and Patrick Chung, the only other true safeties on the roster. Meriweather, Chung, and Brown played virtually the entire game against the Bucs.
Presumably, Ihedigbo will be out at practice later today, but it's only scheduled to be a walkthrough, so we probably won't get a solid read on what he brings to the table until Monday at the earliest.