Anderson gave Patriots an 'edge'

August, 13, 2011
8/13/11
8:00
AM ET
If the Patriots player wearing No. 95 on Thursday night had a more recognizable name -- like LaMarr Woodley, Clay Matthews or DeMarcus Ware -- his performance probably would have been dissected in greater detail by this point.

Unheralded Mark Anderson looked like the best pass rusher on the field, creating havoc while playing a specialized role in sub packages.

So after an offseason in which many were asking "Where's the pass rush?", Anderson's work is spotlighted in a story now posted on ESPNBoston.com.

A few thoughts came to mind after watching Anderson give fits to Jaguars offensive tackles Eugene Monroe (former first-round pick) and Guy Whimper.

One of those is that a big part of Bill Belichick's personnel acumen is identifying what a player does best and putting him in position to do so. Anderson had his best year in 2006 when he was asked to do one thing -- rush the passer. That looks like his role in New England; "It's third down, we need to create pressure, go!"

Also, I'm not sure Anderson would have been a realistic option in past years when the question would have been asked how he fits as a 3-4 outside linebacker. But with the possibility of playing a more traditional four-man line more often in 2011, it has opened up a new avenue for the Patriots to look at pure rush ends/edge rushers (e.g. Anderson, Andre Carter).

The early returns are positive.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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