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It's All About The Replacements

DB Ray Mickens

The Patriots have had their fair share of struggles against teams with good running backs, but the problems they've had in the passing game are more of a cause for concern. New England will field a group of replacement players on Sunday; journeymen not wanted by other teams, and a couple of newbies in the defensive backfield. The real battle is about stopping the pass so the line can focus on LT.

Last year, the Patriots brought safety Artrell Hawkins and fullback Heath Evans on board after the start of the season and both players had an immediate impact. This season, it was Ray Mickens. The 34-year old cornerback was signed by New England on Dec. 4 and has been a key contributor in the Patriots nickel defense ever since. The 11-year veteran was a third-round draft pick of the Jets in 199...

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