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What is next for Patriots at defensive end following Derek Rivers news?

Ryan Hannable
August 18, 2017 - 10:36 am

The Patriots might need to start moving some players around on defense.

According to ESPN’s Mike Reiss and Field Yates, the Patriots fear third-round pick, defensive end Derek Rivers will be lost for the season with a knee injury. Rivers, the Patriots’ first draft pick this spring, was having a productive camp and seemed like a player to have a role this season. 

The defensive end spot was already fairly thin to begin with, so now the Patriots will need to do some tweaking.

Some have already speculated the team will look at a free agent like Dwight Freeney or Mario Williams, but from this viewpoint it doesn’t seem likely. The Patriots like their defensive ends to be versatile and these players, given their age, don’t seem to be a good fit.

What the Patriots likely will do is move players around on their own defensive. First off, Kony Ealy will be counted on maybe more than first thought when they traded for him this offseason. He got off to a tough start, but has shown signs of improving of late. This could also mean a player like Geneo Grissom, who has years of experience in the system, could now have a much better chance of making the roster.

Also, expect the Patriots do some different things with their linebackers.

First off, when Dont’a Hightower comes off PUP, he could be asked to play more on the edge, which could be a benefit for the Alabama product, who was one of the best blitzing linebackers in the NFL last season when he got the chance to do it. With David Harris now on board, he can solidify the middle of the defense.

They also have other linebackers who have experience playing on the edge. Undrafted rookie Harvey Langi comes to mind first, especially considering the Patriots have used him there a lot in the first few weeks of training camp and in last Thursday’s preseason game. His roster spot seems more and more like a lock at this point. Shea McClellin also saw some time on the edge when he was with the Bears prior to joining the Patriots last season. 

Bringing in a player like Williams or Freeney may intrigue some people, but the best options may be internal and just moving some pieces around on the defense.

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