I don't think the intention was to start Dennard outside last year. Bb didn't have a choice. This is why he also traded for Talib last year. I think Ras and mccourty have always been the intended staters at corner...Ras not working out due to injury, and mccourty just falling off the ledge year 2 at corner, compounded by our issues at safety.
Everything being equal, ras I think has a higher ceiling at cb than dennard if he can turn the corner on his health. Reiss said Ras looks like he is moving very fluidly, hips being a lot looser than he has seen in the past. Maybe he is finally getting healthy, hopefully he can stay this way.
At this point, the pats secondary can absorb Dennard out for a while because we are deeper on paper than years past. Awilson adds more to the secondary than anyone one player in this group. He affords bb the luxury of moving mccourty around the secondary should the cb position take a hiT. I said this before...not ideal, but the pats secondary, like our front 7 this year, have a lot of moveable parts to mitigate any risk.