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Through the first two preseason games, the Patriots were relatively healthy, and they looked terrific on both sides of the ball against the Super Bowl Champion Saints and the Atlanta Falcons. Then, the embarrassing 36-35 loss to the Rams took place nearly two weeks ago, and the wheels fell off the bus.
First, the Patriots placed No. 1 corner Leigh Bodden on injured reserve, ending his season. Then, after the team lost to the Giants on Thursday, the team also lost safety Brandon McGowan (torn pectoral muscle) for the season, and then had to make numerous roster cuts to get the squad down to 54.
To the surprise of some, the Patriots cut ties with Derrick Burgess, Sam Aiken, and Pierre Woods over the weekend, and made two trades to help fill some holes on the defense.
The Patriots secondary, which was already young, got even younger with the losses of Bodden and McGowan. Players like Patrick Chung, James Sanders, Brandon Meriweather, Devin McCourty, Terrence Wheatley, Jonathan Wilhite, and Darius Butler will all have to take major steps forward in their development.
To help make up for some of the losses via cuts and injury, the Patriots made two trades. First, they acquired special teamer and linebacker Tracy White from the Eagles for a conditional 2012 draft pick. White should help fill in for Pierre Woods, who was cut.
They then acquired disgruntled safety Jarrad Page from the Chiefs for a draft pick. Page signed his restricted free agent tender last week with the purpose to be traded as the Chiefs worked to fulfill his request. He was injured for much of last season, but started 16 games in 2008, finishing with 85 tackles and four INTs.
The cut of former Raiders linebacker Derrick Burgess was the most surprising of all. After “retiring” at the beginning of the offseason before returning to the team after the first preseason game, Burgess was penciled in as the team’s starting outside linebacker opposite Tully Banta-Cain. With his departure, the Patriots will now likely start Rob Ninkovich, Marques Murrell, and Jermaine Cunningham.
Last year’s special teams captain, WR Sam Aiken, was also cut in a surprise move. This preaseason, it appeared that Aiken lost some of his special teams duties to Patrick Chung, and perhaps his release should not come as as a surprise.
Linebackers Pierre Woods and Eric Alexander were also fixtures on special teams, but it appears Bill Belichick wants to overhaul the depth in that phase of the game. Expect Chung, Matthew Slater (if he’s healthy), and the newly acquired Tracy White to fill in on the special teams unit.
The Patriots also cut rookie safety Sergio Brown, tight ends Carson Butler and Rob Myers; running backs Thomas Clayton and Chris Taylor; receivers Buddy Farnham (from Brown), Darnell Jenkins, and Rod Owens; quarterback Zac Robinson; defensive backs Ross Ventrone and DeAngelo Willingham; linebacker Thomas Williams; and offensive linemen Rich Ohrnberger, Ted Larsen, George Bussey, and Thomas Welch, all drafted within the last two years. (Source: Boston.com)