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Kyle Love's departure appears to coincide with changing defense

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff  May 17, 2013 07:00 AM

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The mid-May cuts are not to be taken lightly for Love or Deaderick. Both were key role players for the Patriots. What was most concerning for Love was the appearance of the Patriots cutting a productive member of the team for having a manageable disease.

That doesn't jibe with the team's history though, as noted by Comcast SportsNet New England's Tom E. Curran. Just look at the signing of defensive lineman Armond Armstead, who had a heart attack while at USC. He was expected to compete with Love. The Patriots drafted offensive tackle Marcus Cannon just weeks after he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Tedy Bruschi stuck around after he had a stroke. All of that gives little air to the notion that Love's release was strictly a medical decision. If you can play, you play.

But with the addition of Armstead, Jason Vega and veteran Tommy Kelly as well as holdovers Justin Francis, Marcus Forston and three rookie free agents, the team was stacked with competition for camp. Many of those Love and Deaderick were set to compete with for snaps play both tackle and end.

Much like the team's wide receivers position group, the Patriots are going to have to sort out a lengthy depth chart at defensive line. There are 15 defensive lineman on the roster. All that matters though is who will line up next to Vince Wilfork on game days.

The price of making sausage comes at the cost of sentimentalism. The Patriots will shave $850,000 in cap space with Love's departure – a little less than a year after he signed a 2-year extension for $3.09 million, a gifted deal for a feel-good story. Sadly that's not how Love's time ended in New England, and he was ushered out as the team replenishes and retools its defense. The 2013 Patriots will look much different, much more aligned with a 4-3 defense that is anchored by athletic tackles. One look at the Patriots' additions this offseason says as much. This is just another move in that direction.

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What's your opinion?


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What's the Patriots defensive line depth chart look like?

With rookie free agents and new guys in the mix, it's about time that the d-line depth chart gets a once over. Here's one man's take. Feel free to opine in the comments:

LDE
Chandler Jones
Justin Francis
Jake Bequette
Michael Buchanan

RDE
Rob Ninkovich
Jamie Collins
Jermaine Cunningham
Jason Vega**

3-4 NT/DT
Vince Wilfork
Marcus Forston
Cory Grissom*

4-3 DT
Tommy Kelly
Armond Armstead**
Joe Vellano*
Dewayne Cherrington*


*Rookie free agent signee
**First-year player from Canadian Football League

Now with that depth chart currently stated, I'd be remiss if I did not take a crack at the team's eventual defensive line depth chart for the regular season. Based on the past two seasons in which the team carried 10 defensive linemen into Week 1, here's my projection:

LDE
Chandler Jones
Justin Francis
Michael Buchanan

RDE
Rob Ninkovich
Jamie Collins

3-4 NT/DT
Vince Wilfork
Marcus Forston

4-3 DT
Tommy Kelly
Armond Armstead**
Joe Vellano*

I happen to think Joe Vellano is the most talented of the defensive tackles the Patriots signed as a rookie free agent, with more athleticism and upside than Cory Grissom and Dewayne Cherrington. But Cherrington is an interesting case as well, having played both sides of the ball at his junior college. The most notable deduction here is Jake Bequette, who was the Patriots' third-round draft choice in 2012. In his case, I still give Justin Francis the edge after the two battled for snaps last season.

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Unwarranted

Chad Johnson – formerly known as Chad Ochocinco around these parts – can't seem to stay on the straight and narrow.

One of the most decorated wide receivers on the NFL free agency market (along with the more infamous Terrell Owens) has a warrant out for his arrest after failing to report to his probation officer in Florida.

Johnson had been on probation since September 2012 after pleading no contest to a domestic violence charge involving his now divorced wife, Evelyn Lozada. She claimed he head-butted her. Because of the case and publicity, he lost his job with the Miami Dolphins, which was supposed to be his opportunity to bounce back after a meager season in New England (15 receptions, 276 yards, 1 touchdown).

Johnson has lost his job, his wife, and the respect of general managers across the league, all in the last couple of years. For him, it all traces back to his sour ending in Cincinnati, marked by his figurative head-butting match with coach Marvin Lewis. His unhappiness with the franchise was a daily storyline, painting him as a prima donna eager to jettison the team and the team eager to absolve itself of his antics. Things haven't changed much since then. The attention he draws while out of work is often of a questionable nature, making it harder and harder to see him landing with a football team anytime soon, if at all.

It appears that once Johnson started acting out in Cincinnati, his ability to maintain his fun-loving, football-oriented persona and charm became futile with one costly mistake after another. He has only himself to blame.

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Brian Hoyer lands in Cleveland

Former Patriots quarterback Brian Hoyer was picked up by the Browns Thursday. At one point, Hoyer was seen as a quality backup to Tom Brady. His command of the offense was well respected in Foxborough. But after the team drafted Ryan Mallett, he was destined for the disposable bin. In Cleveland, he'll get a real shot at being a No. 1 QB. With Brandon Weeden, Jason Campbell, and Thaddeus Lewis on the roster, he can compete for the starting position. The Patriots host the Browns Dec. 8. Mark your calendars.

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Tweet of the week

Prior to being let go by New England, Kyle Love fired off this cryptic tweet.

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Input this

On the news of the Patriots waiving defensive tackle Kyle Love, Boston.com reader tenzenz writes:


"To suggest that the Patriots cut Love, due to his Diabetes Diagnosis, is ridiculous.  There are plenty of legitimate reasons that Love was cut, namely, the new signings, that have already gotten a leg up on him, with their guaranteed contracts, and the fact that they were at the minicamp, and gave the coaches a look at what they will bring to the field and the team. Releasing Love now, allows him plenty of time to hook on with another team and compete for a spot. Meanwhile,  there has been plenty of criticism to go around, regarding the lack of pressure the defense provided last year, namely with the front 7, including Love, who was nothing more than a decent situational player, primarily serving a backup role.  They have to cut loose players like Love,  in order to upgrade.    The Critics can't have it both ways."


I think it took me 500 words to say as much as "tenzenz" did.

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What's coming

- The excitement of the 2013 season begins to brew. The Patriots will have on-field organized team activities (OTAs) starting May 20-21. OTAs will continue May 23, May 28-30, and June 3-4 as well as June 6-7.

- The team's mandatory mini-camp will be June 11-13.

- While no date has been set, the Patriots will likely begin training camp in the final week of July.

- The Patriots open the season on Sunday Sept. 8 in Buffalo. Only 121 days away.

Zuri Berry can be reached at zberry@boston.com. Follow him on Twitter @zuriberry.

News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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