NEPD Staff Writer: Doug Kyed
Two days, two shocking bits of news concerning Patriots cornerbacks.
When the Patriots drafted Ras-I Dowling back in April, a single image stood out. It wasn’t of him backpedaling, covering a receiver against Florida State, it wasn’t of him picking off Dave Shinskie of BC back in 2009. The image was of Ras-I running the 40 yard dash at the combine back in February. He started out strong and fast, bursting off the line, looking to be headed for the best run of the combine, but at the very end, he came up lame and limped his last few steps, pulling his hamstring.
Doesn’t that describe Dowling’s rookie season with the Patriots perfectly?
Dowling started the Patriots first game in Miami; over Kyle Arrington, over Leigh Bodden. He started and he played very well totaling 66/76 snaps in his first game. According to Pro Football Focus, he was targeted six times for two receptions and 51 yards. Dowling played in 26 snaps against Miami before his injury, but was only thrown at once for 23 yards.
Dowling looked like a star in the making. In those first two games, he wasn’t the problem in the secondary, if anything he looked like the solution. But he never came back. He was active for one more game but didn’t see a single snap.
So today Dowling was placed on the IR. Ian Rapoport from the Boston Herald is reporting that Dowling had a torn tendon in his leg, which would basically allow him to practice for one day and then the pain would kick back in and be too much for him to practice again for the rest of the week. Surgery was not necessary, but the recovery time was four weeks plus and Belichick decided it was better to end his season.
Unfortunately, it seems like they got this news a day late, since they just released Leigh Bodden yesterday.
For the rest of the season, the Patriots are left with starters Devin McCourty and Kyle Arrington and reserves Antwaun Molden and Phillip Adams, both of whom joined the team after training camp.
Molden has played 41 snaps on the season and has been targeted five times for three receptions and 55 yards. Molden was drafted in 2008 by the Houston Texans and has never started a game. He was waived by the Texans on August 30, 2011. Molden ran a 4.39 40 coming out of the draft, but has had injury and performance issues during his career.
Adams was drafted by the 49ers in the seventh round of the 2010 NFL Draft and was signed by the Pats on September 21st. Adams has been released and resigned twice since then. Adams saw action in eight games at CB last season playing 76 snaps overall. He was targeted 10 times for six receptions, 28 yards and two touchdowns. Adams too has never started a game in the NFL.
In today’s NFL, third CBs are essentially starters. If the Patriots’ safeties were better, one solution could be to throw Patrick Chung back in the slot and have some combination of Josh Barrett, Sergio Brown and James Ihedigbo playing deep. Unfortunately, that not only weakens Chung’s contribution to the defense, but it also puts a weaker player back deep at safety. Chung is far better at playing centerfield/coming up to defend the run and Arrington is a far better at covering the slot.
Molden is going to need to step up immediately for the Patriots. In sub packages, he and McCourty will be spread out wide while Arrington mans the slot. Lets just hope the Texans are horrible evaluators of CBs and that Molden is this year’s Tramon Williams.
As for Adams… who knows. It’s not a good sign that he’s already been relseased twice by this team. I would expect to see Josh Victorian possibly called up off the practice squad, though he too had recently been released by the team.
I’m certainly not writing off Dowling’s career just yet, but injuries have been a major problem for him as far back as high school. If he can get himself fully healthy and stay that way, he’ll make a great tandem with McCourty for years to come.
Is it too late to call back Leigh Bodden?
Note: Bringing Kevin Faulk and Brandon Deaderick off the PUP list were the corresponding moves for Bodden and Dowling.