Safety Spot Up for Grabs

Devin McCourty

Potential sidekicks to Devin McCourty in the defensive backfield.



Much of the post season defensive talk has been related to the cornerback additions of Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner. There needs to be more focus set who will likely be joining Devin McCourty in the secondary at the safety position.

As the top safety on the roster, McCourty is a sure thing to begin the season, being able to show versatility in the man-to-man coverage straight from his cornerback skill set. He was selected to NFL.com’s list of the league’s top five safeties.

The second safety on the Patriots, however, is still up for grabs with Duron Harmon, Patrick Chung and Tavon Wilson as the most likely candidates to join McCourty in the defensive backfield.
Harmon at camp (photos by Kevin Saleeba / Patriots Insider).

At 6-foot-1, 205 pounds, Harmon is going into his second year with the Patriots after being drafted in the third round of the 2013 draft. The Rutgers star won All Big East first team at safety in both 2011 and 2012, recording two touchdowns his senior season. In his first year with the team, he started three games, was utilized in 36.9 percent of defensive snaps and finished the season as the team’s third safety. With the loss of last year’s number two safety, Steven Gregory, Harmon is seen as the most likely candidate to fill Gregory’s spot. It’s been a good start Harmon. He has shined in the first few days of camps showing good hands catching several interceptions during drills.

While not projected as a top starter around the league, veteran Patrick Chung is still in the running for the strong safety position. Chung rejoins the Patriots after a quick stint with the Eagles last year, Chung has returned with wisdom for his fellow rookie teammates.

“He comes in every day, he’s ready to work, and he understands the defense. I think he’s another model citizen for the younger guys, someone they can look at and model their game, model what he does to get ready for practice and get ready to know what he’s doing. It’s been great,” McCourty told reporters after Sunday’s camp. “He’s a friend of mine who was here the whole-time I was here. He experienced something different and now he’s back.”

Chung has had a good start to camp catching a handful of interceptions and defending passes. While not necessarily a week one pick, Chung could be a great addition to the secondary alongside McCourty as strong safety.

Wilson, New England’s second-round pick in 2012, started 4 regular season games his rookie year, playing in 16 games but was only seen in a total of 22 snaps the following season. Wilson has intensified his off-season training, joining Logan Ryan and Devin McCourty for position drills at the Fischer Institute of Arizona favored by Revis. Wilson has been rotated in with the first-team defense alongside Chung. Both Wilson and Chung are likely to be called upon against major running teams while Harmon’s skills are best served with pass heavy opponents.

Others who could join in:

Jamea Thomas - The rookie safety out of Georgia raised some eyebrows showing slot versatility on the first day of camp but has not been seen on the field since Thursday.

Nate Ebner- The third-year safety has 23 career tackles but has started camp off a bit rough, letting a few passes fall to the ground.

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Newswire assembled by Patriots Insider contributor AnneMarie Blanco (Ablanco on the forums). Look for more updates from AnneMarie here at Patriots Insider throughout the offseason.


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