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Up to the Task: Mark Anderson Moves into Starting Role

Mark Anderson causes Tim Tebow to fumble in the Patriots victory Sunday. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

When you’re top pass rusher, on the league’s worst defense, goes down with an injury it’s easy to panic.

So, naturally when it was evident that Andre Carter would miss the rest of the season an uneasy feeling hovered over Patriots nation.

But, New England has a viable option waiting in the wings: Mark Anderson.

It’s not like Anderson has come from nowhere. After all, he is second on the team with 9 sacks and many still remember him from his fantastic rookie season (2006). The signing of Anderson in this abbreviated offseason went unnoticed. For good reason, in the same offseason, the Patriots signed big-name players like: Albert Haynesworth, Chad Ochocinco and Carter.

Unnoticed may be the right word to describe Anderson’s career of late too.

A fifth round pick out of Alabama, Anderson spent his first five seasons with the Chicago Bears. Like we mentioned, his rookie season was phenomenal with Anderson recording 12 sacks. However, the success stopped there for Anderson.

Over the next five seasons, including an 11-game stint with Houston in 2010, Anderson started in just five games with13.5 sacks — that’s 2.7 sacks per year.

Now in New England, Anderson will start in place for Carter. We saw a glimpse of what Anderson may bring on Sunday.

Anderson flew off the edge, not buying the inside handoff fake to Jeremiah Johnson, and hit Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow as he was attempting to run the option. Anderson jawed the ball lose, which led to a Tom Brady touchdown run.

That play was a game-changer. That play stumped the Broncos momentum. 

Excelled into the starting role, we should be able to expect the same impact from Anderson. While his run defense isn’t particularly strong, he will make up for it rushing off the edge.

The beauty of the NFL — and the second chance.

In a career that started fast, and fell even quicker, Anderson is back in the spotlight with a chance to re-establish himself as a top pass-rusher in the NFL.

About Matthew Marcantonio - @M_Marcantonio

Matthew Marcantonio is the Patriots and college football editor at Sports of Boston. Marcantonio has contributed for two newspapers; the Sentinel & Enterprise (Leominster, Mass) and The Advocate (Baton Rouge, La) and held internships with The Bleacher Report and Sports Illustrated.

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