Competition heats up at CB, ILB

August, 24, 2010
8/24/10
6:30
AM ET
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- One theme to take away from the Patriots' indoor practice Monday was that competition is heating up at cornerback and inside linebacker.

Starting right cornerback Leigh Bodden (knee) returned to practice for the first time in weeks. So did starting inside linebacker Gary Guyton.

So what happens now?

That will be something to monitor in the days to come, but one thing is clear: The fight for jobs is friendly but intense.

"Every day is a competitive day that I look forward to," Guyton said. "Whatever role I have to be today, I'm prepared to take on."

Guyton played 84 percent of the Patriots' defensive snaps in 2009, although rookie Brandon Spikes has looked impressive in recent weeks. Jerod Mayo looks locked in at one inside linebacker spot, with Spikes and Guyton vying for time next to him.

Menawhile, Bodden's return shines a spotlight on how things might shake out at cornerback.

Bodden, who led the team with 17 passes defended in 2009, should ultimately slide back into a starting spot on the right side, even though he might initially be eased back into the mix.

That means 2010 first-round draft choice Devin McCourty and 2009 second-round pick Darius Butler -- who have started in Bodden's absence -- will go head-to-head on the left side. McCourty has had an impressive start to his pro career.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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