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Monday, January 31, 2011
Future Focus: Defensive line

By Mike Reiss

Eighth in a series of positional "look-aheads" for the Patriots:

Warren
After missing the entire 2010 season (hip surgery), Ty Warren will be back on the Patriots' defensive line in 2011. But will he be the same player?
Defensive line: Vince Wilfork, Ty Warren, Mike Wright, Myron Pryor, Ron Brace, Brandon Deaderick, Kyle Love, Landon Cohen, Darryl Richard, Kade Weston, Marlon Favorite

Stat check: The Patriots placed five defensive linemen on season-ending injured reserve in 2010 -- Brace, Richard, Warren, Weston and Wright.

First instinct: The Patriots have a lot of quantity along the line; the question is how much healthy quality.

Storyline not to be overlooked: Warren’s recovery from hip surgery that cost him the 2010 season and Wright’s future after sustaining a concussion that knocked him out the final seven games of the season. With Warren, how much has the wear and tear of surgeries taken a toll on him entering his ninth season? With Wright, will concussion concerns linger?

Future: Wilfork is the leader of the group and he’s signed through 2014. Warren (2013), Deaderick (2013), Wright (2012), Brace (2012) and Pryor (2012) are all locked up for multiple years.

Final thought: Wilfork had the best season of his seven-year career while moving from nose to end on a game-to-game basis. In the ideal scenario going forward for the Patriots, Wilfork will remain at nose and the sturdiness and consistency will be generated at the end spots. Veteran Gerard Warren, a two-down end who played 47 percent of the snaps in 2010, could also return.

Your thoughts: What do you think the Patriots should do along the defensive line? Stand pat because they have numbers? Or should they finally find a replacement for Richard Seymour with a first-round pick? Share your thoughts in the comments section of this blog entry.