FOXBORO – The NFL’s renewed emphasis on enforcing illegal contact probably means Rodney Harrison’s recommended receiver treatment probably won’t fly this season.
Harrison was asked Friday about the Patriots defenders getting more physical this training camp.
“That’s perfect, you're supposed to hate those receivers,” said Harrison. “Every time, you're supposed to choke 'em to death, get ‘em at the line of scrimmage.”
In town for Ty Law’s Patriots Hall of Fame induction, Harrison was fired up about the Patriots prospects for bringing the bang back to the defense.
“I think [physicality] is what Darrelle Revis will bring,” said Harrison. “Now whether he’s an outspoken guy [or] he’ll lead by example and choke you at the line or scrimmage, he can play left, he can play right.” All this talk about Patrick Peterson, Richard Sherman, who’s the best cornerback? The best cornerback is right here in New England. And he will prove it this year.”
But can Revis and the rest of the Patriots defense play that style in the face of the league’s “emphasis?”
“They’ll just play smarter,” Harrison insisted. “They’ll play within the 5 yards, but that’s where everything happens. Guy’s coming off the line of scrimmage, you can jam him, but after that you have to man up. These guys [Revis and Brandon Browner] can do that.”
Law, not surprisingly, eye-rolled about the league’s crackdown.
“It’s very hard,” said Law, whose aggressive coverage on Colts’ wideout Marvin Harrison in the 2004 playoffs caused the last crackdown. “I know this is an offense and a quarterback-driven league but you still gotta let it be football. It’s an aggressive sport and you still gotta let defensive players do their jobs without prohibiting them from being successful. It’s turning into a powder-puff kind of game. I understand protecting players, I’m all for protecting players. But as a former player, we knew what we signed up for. We knew we were gonna get hit. I know a lot of the guys that are playing now are frustrated. We older guys feel like we couldn’t even play in today’s game because there’s a flag thrown every five minutes. There’s so much gray area. I think it’s taken away from the integrity of the game.”
But Law also believes Revis – a longtime friend who also grew up in Aliquippa, Pa. – will be fine regardless.
“I expect him to come out and do what Darrelle always does and that’s to take out the No. 1 receiver,” Law stated. “Whether he gets an interception or not, those guys won’t be scoring and putting up big yardage and that’s what the Patriots defense needs right now. They haven’t had a player of his caliber in a long time. He’s a special-type player and not taking anything away from a guy like Aqib Talib, he is not Darrelle Revis.
“When you can put a guy out there of that ability and then put another very capable corner on the other side, the sky’s the limit,” Law predicted. “Now, we’re gonna be looking at the offense. Can they put up as much production? Have their time ran out? If they can do the same thing [as years past], watch out. Because this defense is gonna be good...Defense wins championship and that’s what the Patriots need right now, they need a better defense to bring home a championship. The offense is there, no problem. But I’ll take a damn good defense over a great offense any day of the week.”