- Mike Rodak, ESPN Staff Writer
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With the Patriots re-signing safety James Ihedigbo, it adds another player to an already crowded group of defensive backs. Here's a breakdown:
Every defensive back under contract was on a 53-man roster at some point last season, aside from 2012 draft picks Wilson, Ebner, and Dennard.
Last season, Arrington finished fourth on the team with 10 special teams tackles, while Brown was fifth with 9 special teams take-downs. In the team's AFC Championship win over the Ravens, Brown played on four special teams units, and Williams on three. Ihedigbo played on two units, while Barrett spent much of the season on injured reserve.
In 2012, McCourty, Arrington, and Dowling project as the top three cornerbacks, with Arrington likely moving into the slot in sub packages. At safety, Chung and Gregory are the projected starters, with Wilson, along with cornerback Sterling Moore, among the top options when extra defensive backs are on the field.
Beyond those players, roster spots will likely go to those who provide a strong special teams presence, which could leave a player like Allen, whose contribution would be expected to come mainly on defense, out of the mix.
Heading into training camp, though, the re-signing of Ihedigbo adds depth to the defensive backfield in case of injury, while creating competition at the position for tightly-contested roster spots.