FOXBORO, Mass. — The New England Patriots have seen a lot of moving parts in their starting secondary throughout training camp and the first two preseason games of 2014.
All-Pros Darrell Revis and Devin McCourty are locked into their starting roles at cornerback and safety, respectively, but it’s still unknown who else will fill out the Patriots’ first-team defensive backfield. Brandon Browner, Alfonzo Dennard, Logan Ryan and even undrafted rookie cornerback Malcolm Butler have seen starting reps at cornerback across from Revis. Ryan, Dennard and Kyle Arrington will compete for the nickel role, while Duron Harmon, Patrick Chung, Tavon Wilson, Ryan and Arrington all have seen snaps at safety next to McCourty.
Revis trusts his head coach, Bill Belichick, to decide when the time is right to announce the starting secondary, so the group can start to build chemistry and camaraderie for the regular season.
“I think coach has a timetable and knows who he wants to put back there, and who’s able to step up and play when he announces who will be the starters,” Revis said Tuesday at Gillette Stadium before practice. “Since OTAs, it’s been a lot of moving around. A lot of guys have been playing different positions, but at the same time, coach knows when it’s time to get ready to play. He’ll know who to put in there and where he feels confident with that.”
The Patriots are entering their third preseason game, and since that game typically is when starters see their most action, we might see some clarity in the secondary this Friday night. Browner’s four-game suspension to start the season complicates matters, so it’s possible that we still see a mix of players play across the field from Revis while Belichick decides who should start Weeks 1 through 4, and then beyond.
That Belichick might be having trouble deciding his secondary is a good problem to have. Revis and Browner add even more talent to a group that already had success in 2013. Belichick hasn’t had this talented of a defensive backfield since the Patriots were still winning Super Bowls.
The Patriots’ secondary is skilled, but only time will tell if that talent will translate to success through chemistry and communication during the season.