As far as Patrick Chung is concerned, that starting safety spot next to Devin McCourty is still up for grabs.
Though second-year man Duron Harmon has looked like the choice to begin the 2014 season as a starter, Chung said he was unsure as to who would be playing next to McCourty during Thursday night's preseason game against the Redskins.
Chung says that competition is still going strong.
"We're competing," Chung said. "We're all competing right now. We don't know who's going to be going tomorrow, we'll find out tomorrow, but whoever plays, whoever's in there has got to compete. Whoever comes in has to be ready. We don't really know what's going on right now, but we're competing trying to get better."
Chung's stance that the starting job is still open may not be completely unfounded. Harmon hasn't taken every first-team rep with the likes of McCourty, Revis and Brandon Browner. In fact, the defensive backfield has been mixed and matched for most of training camp.
There have been moments when Chung is out there with McCourty and Revis. There have been moments when Tavon Wilson has been out there with McCourty and Revis.
While neither Chung nor Wilson has stood out as being in a class ahead of Harmon -- who looks bigger, stronger, and seems more sure of himself in his second year after getting a handful of starts as a rookie -- they've gotten their fair share of practice repetitions.
We're still assuming that Harmon is going to be the No. 2 safety next to McCourty come Week 1, especially since his career and that of the veteran Chung appear to be trending in opposite directions. But a little competition can't hurt.
Especially when that competition is coming from someone like Chung, who has a great deal of experience in the Patriots defense.
Chung had an up-and-down four-year career with the Patriots from 2009-12. His best season came in his second year when he finished with three picks, nine passes defensed and 91 tackles. He was at the back end of two sub-par New England pass defenses in 2011 (though that defense made it to the Super Bowl) and 2012, and he opted to sign as a free agent with the Eagles in 2013.
Now that he's back after signing with New England this offseason, Chung's role is far from set in stone -- he could be used primarily as a special teamer -- but he's happy with where he is in his career.
"Being back in Boston, I've been there for years," Chung said after Wednesday's joint practice with the Redskins. "My family is there, my brothers, my teammates, Bill [Belichick]'s there, my little man's here. It's kind of like home, man. I was absolutely ecstatic [to re-sign] . . . I just like being back. I feel like I should've just stayed here. It's all good. It's part of the game. Back here now. Just gonna keep working. Hopefully I can stay here."
Clearly he's also holding out hope he can earn a starting gig.