Patriots take a couple hits on defense

A few months ago, the Patriots defense looked primed to be one of the top defenses in the NFL. Asante Samuel would return after his almost Pro-Bowl season. Adalius Thomas was brought in from Baltimore to add some spark to an aging linebacker core. Rodney Harrison was finally healed and expected to play the entire season after missing portions of the last two years with injuries. Add coach Bill Belichick’s master defensive scheming to the mix and you have the forming of a perfect defensive storm (a good version though…not this one).

Then, for some reason, things started to take a turn for the worse. Asante Samuel decided that he wasn’t happy having the franchise tag placed on him and began what some feared would be an almost season long holdout. After a month or so, Samuel ended his holdout, but at this point he hasn’t practiced with the team yet and didn’t play in any of the team’s preseason games. There appears to be no way that he’ll be midseason form for at least a few games. The sad part is, that’s the best news the Patriots defense has had this past week. A few days ago they placed Pro-Bowl defensive tackle Richard Seymour on the PUP list, forcing him to miss the first six games of the season with an undisclosed injury. Additionally, safety Rodney Harrison was suspended for the first four games of the season because a failed test for the performance enhancement HGH.

The combined effect of these three issues is unknown at this point, as I’m sure Belichick has plenty of tricks up his magician sleeves and has a history of making the most out of minimal talent, but you have to assume that it’ll have SOME effect. We have moved the New England defense down slightly on our cheat sheet/power ranking list, as it will probably take them until week 8 or so to be the superpower defense that we were all expecting a few months ago. If you happened to draft the New England defense in your fantasy league, you might want to consider possibly picking up an additional defense to start during the following Patriot matchups: Week 2 (SD), Week 4 (@CIN) and maybe Week 6 (@ DAL).