Patriots’ Fifth Safety Spot Still Not Set in Stone As Roster Cuts Loom

FOXBORO, Mass. — Leigh Bodden's shoulder injury pretty much ensured all of the Patriots' five cornerbacks will wind up on the initial 53-man roster, but it also opened up a spot at another position. If that spot is at safety, one player might be in luck.

Who's In
Brandon Meriweather, Patrick Chung, Brandon McGowan, James Sanders

Who's Out
Ross Ventrone, DeAngelo Willingham

Bubble Watch
Sergio Brown

Bubble Analysis
Brown has been good on special teams, which is of the utmost importance for a guy this low on the defensive depth chart to make the roster. In the preseason opener against the Saints, Brown put a good hit on wide receiver Montez Billings to jar the ball loose and cause a fourth-quarter interception that sealed the Patriots' victory. Brown, an undrafted free agent, was an energy player at Notre Dame.

The Patriots are clearly looking to develop a cast of younger safeties for the future. If Brown can hang around New England all season, he'd have a good jump on 2011.

Wild Card
Bodden was obviously the Patriots' best cornerback, but his injury also disrupted the depth they had at the top of the depth chart. Since the Patriots like to use a lot of nickel packages, look for them to employ more three-safety sets than three-cornerback sets. This is because Bill Belichick is more comfortable with Chung, McGowan and Sanders in the slot than cornerbacks Terrence Wheatley and Jonathan Wilhite — at least for right now, anyway.

McGowan also suffered an injury in the last week. Though it is not believed to be serious, he didn’t practice this week and wasn’t seen working out on the sidelines, which could potentially mean he'll miss a little more time next week, as well. This combination of factors could force the Patriots to carry a fifth safety, and Brown's steady performance has been enough to warrant a roster spot. If he plays well Thursday night against the Giants, he'll do himself some real favors in that regard.

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