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Future is now at cornerback

Posted by Albert Breer  September 1, 2010 10:24 AM

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Back in April, Patriots coach Bill Belichick referred to first-round pick Devin McCourty as a "four-down player".

With yesterday's news that veteran Leigh Bodden was placed on season-ending injured reserve, McCourty will have to be. He projects as the starting left corner now, and has 2009 second-round pick Darius Butler, who'll kick over to the right side, as his bookend.

According to some data compiled by our pal Tim Graham, over at ESPN.com, that gives New England the least experienced combination of starting corners in the NFL. Combined with an iffy pass-rush, that could create some problems in regards to the team's ability to be consistent.

The good news is that the first five games of the season -- during which the Patriots will face four of the league's Top 9 rushing offenses -- present challenges for the defense that could, to some degree, keep this inexperience from being exposed completely.

But from that point forward, there could be issues. From Week 7-15, New England faces five of the nine most prolific passing offenses of 2009, and the second-, third-, fourth-, fifth- and sixth-rated passers in the NFL from last year.

So by then, we'll have an idea of how far along these young guys have come.
News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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