Tough defensive decisions loom for Patriots

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Tough defensive decisions loom for Patriots

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

Ravens safety Weddle was interested in joining Patriots before landing in Baltimore

Ravens safety Weddle was interested in joining Patriots before landing in Baltimore

FOXBORO – Back in March, Eric Weddle batted his eyes longingly at the Patriots. The two-time All-Pro safety’s time was done with the Chargers and he wanted to spend his NFL autumn with a team that had a chance to win it all. 

He didn’t land in New England, but he didn’t too badly, winding up with the usually competitive Ravens.  

On a Thursday conference call with New England media, Weddle confirmed that there was mutual interest expressed. 

“Obviously, I was interested,” he acknowledged. “I have nothing but high regard, respect and admiration – and envy, quite honestly – of the success of the New England Patriots over the years. Obviously, battling them in my career, it’s always been a great game. I love the way they play, love the foundation, love everything about it. It was definitely on my radar. There were talks both ways, it just didn’t end up [working out].”

The numbers massed at the position with Patrick Chung, Devin McCourty and Duron Harmon played a role in the two sides not being able to reach accord, according to Weddle. 

“I’m good buddies with Patrick Chung,” he said. “I grew up playing with him and Devin [McCourty] is one of the best to play, so I don’t know if it would have worked out personnel-wise. But obviously, I could have seen myself fitting in there seamlessly.”

Weddle’s New England attraction apparently wasn’t love that bloomed late in his career. Toward the end of his conference call, Weddle said, “I’m still wondering why they just didn’t draft me in ’07; I could have been still playing there now.”

As reporters puzzled for a moment trying to recall the 2007 first-rounder, Weddle chipped in with the answer: “[They took] Brandon Meriweather.”

Raiders' loss to Chiefs puts Patriots in AFC driver's seat

Raiders' loss to Chiefs puts Patriots in AFC driver's seat

FOXBORO - The Patriots got a desired outcome Thursday night when the Chiefs handed the Raiders their third loss of the season. 

The 21-13 loss dropped Oakland and KC into a tie atop the AFC West at 10-3 but the Chiefs, by virtue of beating Oakland twice this season, have the divisional tiebreaker. Oakland went from the top seed in the AFC to the fifth spot.

More importantly around here, the Patriots now are in position to win out and claim the AFC’s No. 1 seed. 

Prior to the Raiders loss, Oakland would have been the top seed if both they and the Patriots won out.  Now, the 10-2 Patriots have a leg up on the rest of the conference. The Raiders’ road stays tough. They are at San Diego and Denver and host the Colts. 

The Chiefs have a more favorable close to the season with home games against Tennessee and Denver before their season finale at San Diego. 

The Patriots’ road over the final four is no picnic though, beginning with the Ravens and at Denver before the last two hosting the Jets and traveling to Miami.