Seventh in a series of positional reviews from the Patriots’ 2009 season:
Defensive line: Ty Warren, Vince Wilfork, Jarvis Green, Mike Wright, Myron Pryor, Ron Brace
Stat check: Warren (13 starts), Wilfork (14) and Green (11) were the top three linemen, while Wright was the top backup (6 starts). Wilfork was fifth on the team with 65 tackles. Wright led all non-hybrid linemen with five sacks.
First instinct: Wilfork was the team’s best lineman, as evidenced by the decision to move him to end against the Dolphins and their best offensive lineman, Jake Long.
Storyline not be overlooked: How this unit was affected by trading Richard Seymour. While picking up a 2011 first-round draft choice was a coup -- especially considering Seymour was entering the final year of his contract -- losing him weakened the Patriots along the defensive front this year.
Future: Wilfork’s contract situation is a top issue facing the team -– this was the last year of his contract -- and he is likely to be assigned the franchise tag. That will allow the sides more time to reach an extension, although it is sure to upset Wilfork and figures to create a contentious situation. Warren (2013), Wright (2012), Pryor (2012) and Brace (2012) are all signed for multiple years, while Green is a free agent.
Final thought: One concern is that Brace, one of the team’s second-round selections (40th overall), had trouble getting on the field. He played approximately 50 snaps and thus didn’t have much game experience to develop.
POSITIONAL QUICK HITS