Patriots second-year defensive lineman Brandon Deaderick returned to practice last week after starting the season on the reserve/physically-unable-to-perform list. New England now has three weeks to place him on the active roster (or move him to season-ending injured reserve).
Drafted in the seventh round (247th overall) out of Alabama, Deaderick appeared in 11 games last season while making five starts, including in the team's postseason game against the New York Jets. We went back to the film vault this weekend to watch a bunch of Deaderick's 2010 snaps. Here's a couple of the positive plays that jumped out (for more from the vault, check out Sunday's post on Ron Brace):
DEADERICK VS. RAVENS
Deaderick made his debut in a Week 4 win over the Dolphins, but played limited snaps. His workload jumped up in Week 6, when he drew a start at left end against the Baltimore Ravens. Deaderick recorded his first career sack in the game when he forced Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco to scramble out of bounds midway through the first quarter. With the Ravens in the red zone, the Patriots don't get much pressure on Flacco, but the coverage leaves him few options downfield. Deaderick is able to muscle his way into the backfield where Marshal Yanda simply needs to keep him away as Flacco scrambles to his right.
Instead, Deaderick delivers a little stiff-arm to shake free, then shows his athleticism by pursuing Flacco to the sideline and ultimately forcing him to go out of bounds near the line of scrimmage for a 0-yard sack on second down. The Ravens settled for a field goal and considering the game spilled into overtime before the Patriots emerged with a 23-20 triumph, the stop certainly aided that cause. Deaderick finished with two tackles.
DEADERICK VS. CHARGERS
A week later, Deaderick started at right end against the Chargers. He played limited snaps, but picked up another sack. The Patriots rush four and make quarterback Philip Rivers uncomfortable, but Deaderick finds himself working against a double team as tackle Marcus McNeill and guard Kris Dielman prevent him from getting inside.
Thanks to pressure from Jermaine Cunningham rushing off the right edge, Rivers tries to scramble to his left, but Deaderick, engaged with McNeill, manages to reach out and drag him down for a 6-yard loss. The Chargers ultimately settled for a field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter and New England emerged with a 23-20 triumph.
These two plays sort of hammer home what's evident watching Deaderick's 2010 snaps. Whether rushing the passer, or playing the run, his biggest talent might be an ability to shed his defender and pursue the ball. Like any seventh-round pick, he's got areas of his game that need to improve and much of that will come with more time on the field.
Deaderick should provide versatility on the line as Patriots coach Bill Belichick stressed when talking about his college days last week.
"Alabama played a lot of nickel defense too, so [Deaderick] actually played all the positions," said Belichick. "He played end, he played tackle, he played nose, in their four-man line he played outside [and] he played inside. I think over the last couple of years with him -- obviously in the 3-4 [Terrence] Cody played on the nose, but there were times when he did play in there. I think you could look at the Alabama tape and you could see him pretty much playing everywhere -- left side, right side, inside, outside."
Deaderick started at left end against the Jets in the postseason and played better than 70 percent of the snaps, recording a career-high four tackles. Missing the first six weeks of the season prevented him from immediately building off that strong finish, but he should be able to work himself into the defensive line rotation once he shakes the rust.