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Leigh Bodden in the spotlight

03.08.10 at 11:26 pm ET

The back-and-forth tweeting between Mike Lombardi, Adam Schefter and Alvin Keels Monday night regarding the future of free agent cornerback Leigh Bodden was fascinating to watch unfold. (I was left wondering why Bodden ‘€” who has been surprisingly outgoing on his own Twitter page ‘€” didn’€™t weigh in at some point.)

But in the end, if the assessments of Lombardi and Schefter are correct and Bodden does return to the Patriots, it marks the return of the most consistent cornerback on the New England roster.

The Duquesne product signed a one-year deal with the Patriots roughly a year ago. Considered a bit of a gamble for a corner who was part of a Detroit team that finished 0-16 in 2008, Bodden’€™s bet paid off. He tied for the team lead in interceptions with five (including a memorable three picks in one game against Mark Sanchez and the Jets), and was tops on the team with 17 passes defensed.

And he was durable. According to Pro Football Focus, Bodden was involved in 89 percent of all New England’€™s defensive snaps over the course of the regular season, including four regular-season games where he was on the field for every defensive play.

In addition, his size (6-foot-1, 193 pounds) and physical play made him unique among Patriots’€™ cornerbacks, as New England has traditionally favored smaller corners in recent years.

‘€œI think he does have a good physical style. He’€™s a big kid,’€ Patriots coach Bill Belichick said when asked about Bodden last year. ‘€œHe’€™s tough. He has long arms. He’€™s good when he can get his hands on the receivers. He has good playing strength. I would say he’€™s a physical corner. He’€™s a good tackler and he jams receivers well. I think he has a physical style, yes.’€

Going forward, the 28-year-old will likely return to his spot at right corner in 2010 and beyond for the Patriots.

Off the field, Bodden is also a positive locker room presence who is respected by many of his teammates. (Just ask Darius Butler.) The fact that he’€™s been on some lousy teams over the course of his career (the 0-16 Lions), and some good ones (the 2009 Patriots and the 2007 Browns, who were both 10-6) gives him a good perspective on the game. As a result, few people were more excited when New England won the AFC East this past season than Bodden. It marked the first trip to the postseason for the veteran.

‘€œThis is what I came here for,’€ he said after the division-clincher.

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