Tough defensive decisions loom for Patriots

Tough defensive decisions loom for Patriots
September 2, 2011, 4:29 pm
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By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
FOXBORO - The Patriots four-man front to start the game Friday night had Shaun Ellis, Vince Wilfork, Albert Haynesworth and Andre Carter on the line. Soon after, it was Mike Wright, Gerard Warren, Haynesworth and Carter. As the night progressed, we saw Eric Moore in for Carter. Idle Friday night was Mark Anderson. In trying to get down to the 53-man roster limit by Saturday at 6, there are some hard decisions to make. These guys are good. And we're not even discussing the situational interior linemen the Patriots have like Myron Pryor, Darryl Richard or the injured Ron Brace and Brandon Deaderick. Let's set the situation.

Mike Wright isn't going anywhere. He's an explosive, experienced end who -- when right -- is very, very good. I can't imagine Warren is going anywhere either because that inside tackle rotation of him, Ellis, Wilfork and Haynesworth is going to make opposing offenses have to think twice about trying to run between the tackles at all. Carter's explosion off the edge has been on display throughout the preseason.
Meanwhile, Rob Ninkovich and Jermaine Cunningham seem safe because they can either play down and rush or drop in coverage because of their linebacking backgrounds. That opens zone-blitz possibilities where they drop and someone like Jerod Mayo fills in as the fifth pass-rusher. One of the edge guys will have to go and it seems a battle between Anderson and Moore is shaping up. In general, I think Moore anchors and sets the edge better than Anderson. Both have shown an ability to get past their man in 1-on-1 pass-rush situations. My guess would be Anderson goes. We'll see what Bill Belichick, Nick Caserio and Co., decide. But it's almost certain there will be an eye-opening release among the defensive linemenends. Too many good players and not enough spots.

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