Back in July, we argued what our biggest concern was, overall, with regard to the 2011 Patriots. Today, we're getting a little more specific.
Now that we've had a little more than a month to watch the team train and play four preseason games, as well as make several surprising roster moves, our question has changed slightly this week.
What position are you most concerned about heading into the '11 season opener?
Read the arguments from the Patriots Football Weekly writers, then cast your vote in our Samsonite Make Your Case poll.
Erik Scalavino says, "Safety ..."
First, I applaud the front office for letting go of Brandon Meriweather, a move that was long overdue. That came, however, after the team failed to re-sign Jarrad Page, then cut loose veterans Brandon McGowan and, surprisingly, James Sanders. That leaves Patrick Chung as your established veteran leader in just his third season.
I'm OK with Chung, but after that, just Sergio Brown, Josh Barrett and James Ihedigbo as safeties on the active roster? Brown is only in his second year and still developing, Barrett has hardly played at all since coming to New England, while Ihedigbo has been a backup/special teamer in his NFL career. Lots of question marks here.
Paul Perillo says, "Linebacker ..."
Safety is thin to be sure, but not anymore so than linebacker.
Jerod Mayo is terrific and I expect him to have a monster season in the Patriots new, aggressive scheme. But other than him, I'm not sure who to rely on. Rob Ninkovich is the strongside LB and he is serviceable. In the middle there are questions. brandon Spikes is strictly a run-stopper and he's been unreliable. Dane Fletcher is a nice story but I'm not sure he's capable of handling every-down duties. Gary Guyton is best served in a reserve role.
Overall I wonder if there's enough depth - and talent - at linebacker to make it through the season.
- Now's the fans turn to cast their vote in this week's edition of Samsonsite's Make Your Case.