I've had enough talk of Marshawn Lynch for the time being; here to help change the subject are the three fine AFC East bloggers we chat with each week in our fourth installment of "Around the AFC East". These posts will be coming to you rapid-fire throughout the afternoon; we continue this week's festivities with MaPatsFan from Pats Pulpit:
Last off-season, the Bills signed CB Jason Webster in May to start at cornerback. He was subsequently injured in the season opener and placed on IR, adding to a long list of injury woes for him. Now he's been signed as a possible starter in New England. Can the Patriots rely on Webster to fill part of the void left by Asante Samuel?
Pats Pulpit: An email exchange with a reporter from the Boston Globe cited the Patriots' secondary as one of his biggest storylines moving forward. There's so much "newness" right now that it's almost impossible to predict what's going to happen. Ellis Hobbs almost certainly has locked up a starting CB position. Now, before you poo-poo the idea, let me just say that I'm not so much of a homer to think Hobbs is the final answer. He's certainly no Top 5 CB like Samuel is and he doesn't have quite the swagger I think the position warrants, but he is solid. Sure Plaxico Burress burned him in the Super Bowl, but in my opinion was Hobbs was left alone with a franchise WR and got a bad rap for letting Plaxico get by him. We should've had a safety behind Hobbs to cover for that.
I'm not sure Jason Webster will be the guy to take over a starting spot opposite Hobbs. The same reporter mentioned above felt Fernando Bryant had the goods to own that other spot. At least, that was his opinion based on no pads OTAs. Put the pads on and start knocking heads during training camp and the opinion may change. That being said, Dom Capers (secondary coach) may have a lot of surprises in store for us. Word is the players are learning a great deal from him, especially rookies Terrence Wheatley and Jonathan Wilhite, so anything is possible. Once Capers gets a feel for Webster's talents, you could see him in sub packages, but I don't see him getting the nod as a starter.
You'll get no argument from me about Hobbs - I've always thought he was better than people let on. I'm actually giddy about something MaPatsFan brought up, though - that's the Patriots' safeties. With new, not so great corners, the Pats' starting safeties are going to have to play slightly different (coverage) roles this coming season, lest the corners get burned on an island. That limits the effectiveness of a guy like Rodney Harrison. The wave could be felt in the linebacking corps a bit as well. Losing Samuel is going to have a major impact on the Pats' secondary; whether anyone can capitalize on the change, however, remains to be seen.
One more interview coming your way soon, where we'll be discussing the Miami Dolphins.