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Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Rodney: Safety enforcer needed

By Mike Reiss

When former Patriots safety Rodney Harrison assesses areas in which the team needs help, he highlighted his former position.

“I think they need an enforcer at the safety position,” Harrison said on Tuesday’s edition of PFT Live. “The tight ends and wide receivers running across the middle, they’re not afraid of getting hit. They need someone like a [Bernard] Pollard to really make a statement, set the tone, and really make them fear coming across the middle. They don’t have that.”

The Patriots finished the season with Devin McCourty and Steve Gregory at safety. They also had 2011 second-round draft choice Tavon Wilson and four-year veteran Patrick Chung at the position, with rookie Nate Ebner as the No. 5 option.

Of the group, Chung is the hardest hitter, but he fell out of favor with the coaching staff in the second half of the season. He played just two snaps in the AFC Championship Game, as part of the goal-line defense.

The lack of an enforcer at safety highlighted why Harrison felt the Patriots lost.

“The Baltimore Ravens came in and beat up and physically dominated the Patriots. I would have never thought that was something that would happen to a Patriots team,” he said on the program. “For Baltimore to come in and physically dominate you, outprepare you, outplay you and basically out coach you, it was very surprising to me.”

Harrison pointed out that quarterback Tom Brady is closer to the end of his career, so the window of opportunity is closing, but he believes that Brady has at least three years left of playing at an All-Pro level.

He stressed the importance of the Patriots finding more balance throughout their team.

“The Patriots were much improved defensively, but I still believe they need to get a legit pass rusher to get to the QB and more speed at linebacker,” he said.