Free Agent Primer: Defensive line

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Free Agent Primer: Defensive line

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com

This is the fifth in a series of looks at the Patriots' position-by-position needs after the draft, and who's available to fill them via free agency . . . whenever free agency might come. Today's position: Defensive line.

Who's here?
Vince Wilfork, Ty Warren, Marcus Stroud, Mike Wright, Ron Brace, Myron Pryor, Kyle Love, Brandon Deaderick, Landon Cohen, Kade Weston, Darryl Richard, Marlon Favorite.
Who's out there?
Cullen Jenkins (Packers), Stephen Bowen (Cowboys), Shaun Smith (Chiefs), Justin Bannan (Broncos), Kenyon Coleman (Browns), Jacques Cesaire (Chargers), Gerard Warren (Patriots), Shaun Ellis (Jets). What's the need?
From 1-10? Let's call it a5. The Patriots have an abundance of heft along their defensive line with Brace (330 pounds) Wilfork (350-plus), Cohen (305), Deaderick (300), Favorite (317), Pryor (310), Richard (295), Stroud (310), Weston (316), Wright (295)and Ty Warren (305). The rotation is deep and young. There are veterans and young guys. There are guys who generate pressure (Wright had 5.5 sacks, Pryor has a knack as well, it seems). Overall, it's a pretty solid group. I think Gerard Warren was really outstanding for them last year, but his contract expired and Marcus Stroud was brought aboard. I thought that was a dubious acquisition but was redirected by opposing GMs who assured me that Stroud can still play and is very professional. A good pickup. So what I'm getting at is, unless they unearth the new Seymour - a 6-6,, 310-pound chiseled guy who can anchor with ease, command double-teams and chase all over the field - the Patriots will only be duplicating what they have on their roster with most of the guys on the market.Who do they chase?
Gerard Warren will still be out there when free agency opens. He'd be a good get. Other than that, the 3-4, 5-technique ends would be the places the Patriots would seek. Coleman. Bannan, released by Denver as the Broncos switch to a 4-3. That ilk makes sense. Who do we look at next?
Outside linebackers.

Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Wednesday's Pats-Bills practice report: Jimmy G., Brissett both 'limited'

Wednesday's Pats-Bills practice report: Jimmy G., Brissett both 'limited'

FOXBORO -- The highly-anticipated first Patriots injury report of the week was released on Wednesday afternoon, and it was fairly predictable. 

Both injured quarterbacks were active but limited in their practice participation, the report indicated. That comes as little surprise as both Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder) and Jacoby Brissett (thumb) were spotted throwing passes early in Wednesday's practice. Neither appeared to be experiencing any significant discomfort as they made their warm-up throws. 

Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower (knee) and tight end Rob Gronkowski (hamstring) were also limited. Gronkowski admitted that the team was taking it slow with him in his first game back on the field last week -- he played just 14 snaps in New England's win over Houston -- but he said on Wednesday that he hoped to go "freakin' crazy" on the field soon.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
QB Jacoby Brissett (right thumb)
OT Marcus Cannon (calf)
G Jonathan Cooper (foot)
LB Jonathan Freeny (shoulder)
QB Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder)
TE Rob Gronkowski (hamstring)
LB Dont'a Hightower (knee)
CB Eric Rowe (ankle)

BUFFALO BILLS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
TE Charles Clay (knee)
OL Cyrus Kouandjio (ankle)
OL Patrick Lewis (knee)
WR Sammy Watkins (foot)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
DB Colt Anderson (foot)
DB Ronald Darby (hamstring)
QB Cardale Jones (right shoulder)
DB Jonathan Meeks (foot)
WR Greg Salas (groin)
DB Aaron Williams (ankle)
OL Cordy Glenn (ankle)

Garoppolo: Not pressured by Patriots to return last Thursday

Garoppolo: Not pressured by Patriots to return last Thursday

FOXBORO -- Jimmy Garoppolo spoke Wednesday for the first time since getting his shoulder separated by the Dolphins’ Kiko Alonso. Standing by his locker, Garoppolo was predictably vague about the status of his arm, unless you consider, “Getting better day by day,” as being insightful. 

The only two responses offered that were worth a damn came when asked if he could have done anything different when he got squished by Alonso while retreating and buying time.  

“Just have to be smart I guess,” said Garoppolo. “I mean, it’s football and stuff’s gonna happen like that, but have to be smart in those situations.”

Asked if he regretted holding the ball as long as he did on a third-down play with the Patriots up 21-0, Garoppolo replied, “After it’s all said and done it’s easy to say that, but it’s one of those things, you’re in the heat of the game. But bottom line I have to be smarter than that.”

Agreed.  

Meanwhile, as he worked last week to get back for Thursday night’s game against Houston, The Boston Herald reported that the Patriots were “putting pressure” on Garoppolo to be ready for the game. Working hard to get key players ready for upcoming games is standard operating procedure for a medical staff. Trying to force a player to perform is not. 

I asked Garoppolo if he felt unduly pressured. He replied, “No.”