Monday, November 14, 2011

Patriots still get it done with call-ups, movers

The New England Patriots have long been known as the team that fills roster with whoever will fit, especially in their years of playoff runs and Super Bowl championships.

Remember when Patriots veteran and captain Troy Brown hopped over on defense and lined up as a cornerback? The franchise receptions leader even hauled in three interceptions in 2004, becoming a versatile player on both sides of the ball for New England.

In Sunday night’s 37-16 victory over the New York Jets (5-4) at MetLife Stadium, Bill Belichick’s Patriots (6-3) looked much like those teams of the early 2000s: bringing up no-name defenders and giving them the chance to be game-changers, finding success based on the system, and, of course, using a wide receiver to fill a void in a depleted secondary.

That’s right. Julian Edelman, a second-year quarterback-turned-receiver out of Kent State, was used the same way as Brown, coming in during the fourth quarter to play cornerback. Edelman even tackled Jets running back LaDainian Tomlinson.

"He's a smart kid. He's worked in there before," Belichick told the media Monday. "He would know enough to do be able to do whatever it is we have."

And Edelman wasn’t the only guy who manned up. He was just the only one switching from offense to defense. There was also Antwaun Molden, a fourth-year pro recently claimed off waivers from the Houston Texans; Phillip Adams, a second-year corner out of South Carolina State; and recently promoted defensive backs Sterling Moore and Ross Ventrone, who have both bounced back and forth between the practice squad and the 53-man roster.

The result was clear. Belichick’s tactic of “next man up” still works. Even in the most heated of rivalries against the most hated opponents.

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