NEPD Staff Writer: Jerry F.
The New England Patriots announced this evening that 8th year defensive end Ty Warren has been placed on injured reserve due to a hip injury suffered in training camp.
It is back to the drawing board for the coaches who were already faced with the task of finding a stable replacement for departed DE Richard Seymour traded to the Oakland Raiders right before the 2009 season, and Jarvis Green who left for Denver this offseason.
Coach Bill Belichick said, “It’s a tough break for Ty but we have to move on as a team, he’s missed time before and its unfortunate but that’s the reality of the game”. Losing Warren, who since he got drafted in 2003 has 496 tackles, 20.5 sacks and four forced fumbles is a major blow to the team but like Belichick always say “its the next man in”.
Let’s take a look at the Patriots current roster to try and determine who that “next man in” could be, playing opposite newly-signed FA Gerard Warren.
The Patriots signed Wilfork to a 5 year $40 Million contract this offseason as a result of him being one of the best nose tackles in the league, but overall he is a defensive lineman. Wilfork started at the defensive end position in a 59-0 rout of the Tennessee Titans last season and was quite disruptive. He also played defensive end in certain defensive packages in other games. If Wilfork is moved to the end position, the nose tackle position could be up for grabs amongst Kade Weston, Mike Wright, Myron Pryor, and Damione Lewis.
Burgess is not a 5-technique end, but could replace Warren in 4-3 sets and in passing situations. Burgess just reported to the Patriots camp today after spending the past couple of weeks contemplating retirement, and at this point his commitment could be in question. Before the Patriots traded a 3rd and 5th Round pick to the Oakland Raiders for Derrick Burgess, he was a pro bowl defensive end registering 16 sacks in 2005 and 11 sacks in 2006 for the Raiders. The Patriots utilized him as an OLB in their 3-4 defensive alignment last season but he didn’t really have much of an impact until late in the season collecting a pair of sacks against the Carolina Panthers and the Buffalo Bills.
In 2008, Mike Wright started at the defensive end position in two games in the absence of Ty Warren who was out due to an injury back then (yeah its like 2008 all over again) and he might be poised to do the same this year if he steps up. Wright has played both defensive end and defensive tackle positions since he was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Patriots in 2005 and he’s had his moments; he sacked Ravens Quarterback Joe Flacco twice in a regular season game last season and he also had a strip sack of the Jets Mark Sanchez. Mike Wright has the potential to be disruptive, but he needs to be consistent to really make a name for himself.
Like Mike Wright, Lewis has also played both defensive tackle and defensive end position in his career, including a then season high 11 tackle effort last year versus the Patriots as a member of the Carolina Panthers. Signed as a free agent this offseason, Lewis was expected to battle for a spot on the defensive line and with Ty Warren being put on injured reserve he has to fancy his chances of staking a claim for one of the defensive end positions that’s pretty much wide open.
Whether the Patriots sign a free agent or make a trade remains to be seen, but it seems like the defensive line is going to be in a constant rotation this year. Its up to the next man in to step up and seize the opportunity.
– Jerry F.
Tags: Ty Warren