Richard Seymour, who won three Super Bowls in his eight seasons with the Patriots, will have his first opportunity to square off against his old team. It’s fair to think Seymour will play with something of a chip on his shoulder after he was shockingly traded in Week 1 of the 2009 season.
Seymour has thrived in Oakland’s 4-3 scheme, accumulating 12 sacks in 32 games with the Raiders. With more freedom to knife through the line, Seymour has become one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL over the last two years. That’s not to say he wasn’t heavily respected during his days with New England, but he didn’t always have the opportunity to make as many plays in the backfield.
“Had he played in [Oakland's] 4-3 system the length of his career, we’d probably be talking about him in a much higher respect as one of the best D-tackles in the history of the game,” said Patriots guard Brian Waters, who battled with Seymour during his years with the Chiefs. “But over the last few years, he’s, if not the best defensive tackle, one of the hardest to go against.”
Seymour has always had a strong reputation for his on-field performance, but Waters discussed the statistical side of it, too. Obviously, it’s easier to see Seymour jump out to make more plays in the backfield, but his numbers — for what they’re worth — aren’t necessarily night and day from his tenure with the Patriots. He has averaged 0.375 sacks per game with the Raiders and 0.351 sacks per game with the Patriots.
“I think a lot of that stuff is based off numbers,” Waters said of players’ reputations. “As a football player, when you’re going against another football player, it’s about that particular thing, it’s not really about the numbers at the end of the day, and I have a high respect for his play on the football field.”
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said Seymour has lined up primarily at right defensive tackle, which would place him over left guard Logan Mankins. However, left tackle Matt Light said the Raiders have moved him all over the line, which was definitely true in the past two seasons.
Mankins, who didn’t practice or speak to the media Wednesday, would be an awesome matchup for Seymour, but Mankins — assuming he’s healthy enough to play — will probably get a few chances with Light or center Dan Connolly in on a double team.
Light is looking forward to the opportunity to play with his longtime teammate.
“He’s a smart player,” Light said. “I’m sure he’s one of the guys that really keeps everybody in line, gets them lined up and the whole nine, so they’re a good group.
“Richard is just one of those guys, he’s got multiple moves. He plays with a lot of strength. He’s very disruptive.”