August 14, 2013

Patriots can least afford to lose Brady, but then who?

Commentary: The Patriots have several candidates, and those who follow the team have several ideas.


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Aqib Talib
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Aqib Talib is so needed in the secondary that when he was hurt in the AFC final last season, the Patriots fell apart.

The Associated Press

Vince Wilfork
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Vince Wilfork is the man in the middle who stops the run, but there are other pivotal players on defense.

The Associated Press

"They have Tommy Kelly, Marcus Forston, Vince, that's pretty much it. Tommy Kelly isn't going to play every down so as far as stopping the run, being that cog in the middle, I'd say Vince. I can't say anyone else."

Pondering it a bit more, Fauria cited Ninkovich.

"He's my favorite player on the team in terms of what he does. He can play every position on the team," Fauria said. "He can play defensive end, he can play the mike (linebacker), he can tell everyone where to go, he can replace Mayo, he can replace (Dont'a) Hightower, he can replace (Brandon) Spikes, he can play that spot.

"If you want a different presence on the end who gets sacks He made so many plays last year, I think people kind of forget that about him. If you're scouting this team, this is a guy I'm worried about."

If Jones evolves into a player who registers 10-plus sacks a year, would that elevate him on the importance meter? What if Amendola recreates the Wes Welker role and catches 100 passes a year from Brady? Or how about Ridley? It would seem tough for the offense to be effective without a running game.

They're all in the mix, and perhaps a few others. ESPN analyst Damien Woody also chose Wilfork without much hesitation but mentioned Mayo as well.

"With all the unrest on offense, the (players on) defense need to be the ones who stabilize until the offense settles in and Brady breaks in a lot of those new players," Woody said. "So along with Vince, I'd go with Mayo right after that."

Fauria conceded it's a difficult question, given how well the coaching staff patches the holes when someone goes down.

Food for thought all the same.


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