The Patriots signed veteran safety James Ihedigbo last week (8/19) to
help shore up a
position that had become dangerously thin for New England. After
working out veteran safeties Darren Sharper and Renaldo Hill, the team
chose instead to sign Ihedigbo, who was available as a free agent after
the Jets decided not to re-sign him.
"He's played safety for the Jets and some nickel
and dime with responsibilities on defense and he's been good in the
kicking game. We'll see what he can do," head coach Bill Belichick said
of Ihedigbo after Saturday's hour-long walkthrough session.
"Wherever they need me to play. I'm just going to
go out and bring my intensity, my energy, and the way this game is
designed to be played, fast and physical, to this defense," Ihedigbo
told reporters after his first workout with his new team.
It's truly a homecoming for Ihedigbo, the
27-year-old Northampton, Mass. native and former UMass product. He
entered the league in 2007 as an undrafted rookie free agent with New
York. Ihedigbo has totaled just 11 defensive tackles in 37 NFL
regular-season games, plus 25 special teams stops.
"I'm excited to be a Patriot, excited about the
opportunity that Coach (Bill) Belichick and owner (Robert) Kraft have
given me," he continued. "Whatever I can do to help us be successful
"It's a childhood dream to come back and play for
the same team you grew up watching."
At 6-feet-1, 214 pounds, it's no surprise which
former Patriot this safety emulated as a boy.
"Definitely, I tried to model my game after Rodney Harrison, a physical player who knew what he was supposed to do at all
times. A leader.
"Born and raised a Pats fan," he added. "Went to
games when I was in high school at the old Foxboro Stadium and said,
'One day I'm going to be playing here.' Lo and behold, here I am."
Patriots Insider Take: (Jon Scott) @jscottNFL
Ihedigbo needs to have a strong showing over the final two preseason
games to secure a role with the Patriots. James Sanders,
Patrick Chung and Brandon Meriweather are the team's top defenders with
Sergio Brown and Kyle Arrington both finding playing time in the
defensive backfield. Meriweather may be in the most
precarious spot. The former first round pick has failed to endear
himself to the coaching staff, and has yet to prove himself worthy of
his draft status despite being elected to the Pro Bowl twice.
(Meriweather was only option at one safety position in the
Pro Bowl balloting.)
The newcomer may get a chance to step up his career in New England
after playing in relative anonimity over a three-year
career in New York as a role player. Ihedigbo appeared in 14
games for the Jets last year but did not start. He recording
22 total tackles, and three sacks.
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