FOXBORO, Mass. — Alfonzo Dennard might have lost his starting cornerback job on the New England Patriots defense when the team signed Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner this offseason, yet the third-year pro still was glowing when talking about their impact and influence.
Dennard returned to practice on Tuesday after spending the the first four training camp sessions working on conditioning. The cornerback underwent surgery this offseason to fix a nagging shoulder injury that plagued him throughout the 2013 season. Dennard looked a bit rusty on Tuesday and Wednesday, but even participating in walkthroughs can help him play catchup after missing organized team activities and minicamp.
“It’s more of a mental thing,” Dennard said about walkthrough drills. “Some plays I probably don’t know, just gotta watch from the outside, ask questions. Coaches gonna teach you, just gotta ask questions.”
Revis and Browner are penciled in as the starters for 2014, but as second-year pro Logan Ryan said on Wednesday, “there is no depth chart in Week 1 of training camp.” Ryan or Dennard still could push Browner for the No. 2 cornerback job. All three players, plus Kyle Arrington, are competing for that role, but they also are learning from one another.
“I think it’s a give and take relationship,” Ryan said Wednesday at Gillette Stadium after training camp practice. “You gotta always respect players of their caliber, but it’s not about what they’ve done, it’s what they do here in front of us and in front of myself each and every day. They’re great leaders, they’re great players and they’re learning from us, guys who have been in the system a little bit, as well.”
Revis and Browner appear to be catching on quickly, and the secondary seems to be jelling despite fighting for limited reps.
“It’s nice. They come in and make sure everybody does their work,” Dennard said Wednesday after practice. “They’re helping us learn, helping young guys learn. They’re very good role models to look up to as older guys.”
Even if Browner wins the starting role out of training camp, either Dennard or Ryan could steal back that job when the former Seattle Seahawks cornerback serves a four-game suspension to start the season. Both Ryan and Dennard played well last season, and the entire secondary should improve by adding Revis into the mix.
Ryan also saw some reps at safety before Wednesday’s practice officially got underway in a walkthrough capacity. Head coach Bill Belichick said after the draft that Ryan could see some time at the new position this season.