The Patriots' defensive line has plenty of quantity, and over the course of the next five weeks, they'll find out how much quality they've got, too. They've got the stalwarts in Vince Wilfork, Ty Warren and Mike Wright. They've got the young guys trying to earn their keep in Myron Pryor, Ron Brace, Brandon Deaderick and Kade Weston. And they've got the veterans who are trying to do their part in Derrick Burgess, Damione Lewis and Gerard Warren.
This will be one of the best and most wide-ranging battles in training camp, and there will be some surprising cuts, to be sure, so let's take a closer look at New England's defensive linemen.
Defensive Linemen on Roster: Ron Brace, Derrick Burgess, Brandon Deaderick, Dane Fletcher, Adrian Grady, Damione Lewis, Kyle Love, Myron Pryor, Darryl Richard, Gerard Warren, Ty Warren, Kade Weston, Vince Wilfork, Mike Wright
Available Roster Spots: Probably seven
Key Statistic: In terms of total salary over the course of a contract, Wilfork ($40 million over five years) and Warren ($35 million over five years) have two of the three highest contracts on the team.
Position Battle to Watch: The Patriots are still looking for Richard Seymour's true replacement alongside Wilfork and Warren on the three-man defensive line. Keep in mind, because Wilfork played so well on the outside last season, the Patriots aren’t necessarily looking for a starter at right defensive end. Wright played on the inside and outside last season, and he'd be the most ready to step in immediately. Gerard Warren is also a strong candidate to rotate through the line.
Hot Topic: With that, the signings of Gerard Warren and Damione Lewis may be an indication that the Patriots are looking to make more of a move to a four-man defensive line, whether it be as a 4-3 base or in sub packages. Lewis has played exclusively in a four-man front during his nine seasons, and Warren has done both. Because the Patriots don’t have much depth at outside linebacker, it might behoove them to increase the use of a 4-3 in 2010.
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