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|Asante will be working on conditioning for the time being.(Courtesy of mell-oonthemic.blogspot.com)|
The return of Asante Samuel – what ever his feelings are off the field – puts the Patriots secondary in another league. Samuel intercepted 10 passes in the 2006 regular season and while most don’t expect a similar gaudy total, Samuel needs to step in and be the teams’ No. 1 corner from Day 1.
Depth has been something lacking for the Patriots secondary this pre-season, with Randall Gay filling in as the starting corner opposite Ellis Hobbs . Gay hasn’t played a full season in two years and his durability would have been a major liability for the Patriots.
Samuel will have plenty of motivation when the regular season begins. Not only is he banking $7.79 million this year, but he could be a free agent after the 2007 season, making this campaign his second contract season in a row. Samuel was not at practice Monday but coach Belichick said Samuel would be going through the usual early training camp routine, including more conditioning than on-the-field training.
When Samuel is completely up to speed, whether that be in week one or week two, he will instantly be best corner on the team and his contributions will be vital as the Patriots look to return to the Super Bowl.