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Patriots position-by-position breakdown: Cornerback 02.16.15 at 7:00 am ET
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Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner changed the look of the Patriots secondary. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner changed the look of the Patriots secondary. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

With the Patriots done for the season, we’ve got an end-of-the-year position-by-position breakdown of where the Patriots stand. We’ve looked at special teams, wide receivers, running backs, tight ends, quarterback, offensive line and safety. Now, it’€™s the cornerback position.

Depth chart (regular-season stats via coaches film review): Darrelle Revis (49 tackles, 2 INTs, 14 passes defensed, 1 forced fumble recovery), Brandon Browner (26 tackles, 1 INT, 6 passes defensed), Kyle Arrington (33 tackles, 1 sack, 4 passes defensed, 2 forced fumbles), Malcolm Butler (14 tackles, 4 passes defensed), Alfonzo Dennard (15 tackles, 1 INT, 1 pass defensed), 1 fumble recovery), Logan Ryan (36 tackles, 2 INTs, 6 passes defensed, 1 forced fumble)

Overview: In much the same fashion the Patriots underwent an Extreme Makeover at wide receiver at the end of the 2006 season, they did the same thing at cornerback this past offseason. While the overhaul at wide receiver prior to 2007 wasn’€™t enough to get them over the top, it was just enough this time around, as the New England secondary was a difference-maker throughout the season and into the playoffs.

While Browner was sidelined for the first four games because of a suspension for a 2013 violation of the NFL’€™s substance abuse policy, the impact was immediate, as second level corners like Dennard were immediately pushed down the depth chart in favor of top-shelf talent like Revis and Browner, and teams that had feasted on the New England corners in previous years were shut down across the board. While there was a mixture of man and zone over the course of the season, Revis was able to lock down most of the No. 1 receivers he ended up going head-to-head with, while Browner was a versatile and feisty presence who worked equally well against bigger targets, which included receivers and tight ends.

For the most part, the rest of the corners were able to fill in nicely around Revis and Browner: Arrington was a quality presence in the slot for most of the season, while Butler provided nice depth, eventually emerging on the biggest stage against the Seahawks in the title game. (More on that shortly.) Ryan occasionally struggled in coverage, and teams started to understand that if you had a deep passing game and wanted to test the Patriots, you stayed as far away as possible from Revis and Browner. Meanwhile, Dennard was an afterthought, struggling with injury for most of the year before going on season-ending injured reserve in December.

Going forward, the whole offseason starts with Revis: he is technically under contract for 2015, but his cap hit is so enormous it’€™s debatable as to whether or not the Patriots can think about bringing him back at that total. Presuming he finds a way to stick around –€” from this viewpoint, he’€™ll be around for at least one more season –€” that would allow the rest of the corners to slot neatly into place for another season. Browner, Butler, Ryan and Arrington are all under contract for 2015, while Dennard now likely faces an uphill battle for playing time against a Super Bowl hero in Butler. He could end up being cut somewhere down the line if the roster numbers don’€™t add up or if the Patriots try and add to their depth at the position either in free agency or the draft.

Best moment: Prior to Super Bowl XLIX, there were a ton of memorable performances by the New England cornerbacks, including the work that Revis did against a several of high-profile receivers, including A.J. Green and Sammy Watkins. (There was also the high-energy jolt of Browner, who played with an edge and made plenty of receivers think twice when it came to going over the middle.) But you’€™d be foolish not to pinpoint the performance of Butler at the end of the Super Bowl, jumping the route and picking off the Russell Wilson pass for Ricardo Lockette. It was a great play on several levels, but maybe the most impressive things about Butler’€™s execution was the fact that he was beaten on the play the week before in practice by the scout team duo of Jimmy Garoppolo and Josh Boyce. When the play happened in the Super Bowl, he was able to recognize what happened and make the biggest play of his career.

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Read More: Alfonzo Dennard, Brandon Browner, Darrelle Revis, Kyle Arrington
Patriots promote WR Josh Boyce to active roster, place CB Alfonzo Dennard on IR 12.27.14 at 5:46 pm ET
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Josh Boyce

Josh Boyce

The Patriots made several personnel moves on Saturday night, signing wide receiver Josh Boyce to the 53-man roster from the practice squad and placing cornerback Alfonzo Dennard on injured reserve. In addition, the Patriots signed defensive back Daxton Swanson to the practice squad and released defensive lineman Cam Henderson from the practice squad.

Here’s a portion of the statement issued by the team on the moves:

Boyce, 23, was drafted by the Patriots in the fourth round (102nd overall) of the 2013 NFL Draft out of Texas Christian. He played in nine games with three starts as a rookie and finished with nine receptions for 121 yards. Boyce was released by the Patriots on Aug. 30, 2014 and signed to the practice squad on Sept. 1.

Dennard, 25, is in his third season with the Patriots after joining the team as a seventh round draft pick (224th overall) out of Nebraska in the 2012 NFL Draft. He played in six games with four starts in 2014 and registered 15 total tackles and one interception.

Swanson, 23, has spent most of the season on the New England practice squad. He was released from the practice squad on Dec. 23. Swanson was originally signed by the Patriots as a free agent on May 22, 2014. He entered the NFL as a rookie free agent with the Indianapolis Colts on April 30, 2013, out of Sam Houston State. The 5-foot-11, 191-pounder was released by the Colts on Oct. 29, 2013 and was signed to the San Francisco 49ers practice squad on Nov. 18, 2013. He was released by San Francisco on May 12, 2014.

Henderson, 24, had two stints on the New England practice squad this season. He originally entered the NFL as a rookie free agent with the Atlanta Falcons on April 29, 2013 out of Central Florida. The 6-foot-4, 270-pounder, was released by the Falcons on Aug. 25, 2014 and was signed to the Cleveland Browns practice squad on Dec. 4, 2013. He went to training camp this past summer with Cleveland, but was released on Aug. 25, 2014. He played two seasons at Central Florida after beginning his college career at Vavarro College.

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Alfonzo Dennard, Cam Henderson, Daxton Swanson, Josh Boyce
Brandon Browner reportedly struggling to pick up Patriots’ D 10.09.14 at 9:18 pm ET
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Brandon Browner intercepts  a pass intended for Kenbrell Thompkins in June mini-camp. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Brandon Browner intercepts a pass intended for Kenbrell Thompkins in June mini-camp. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — Brandon Browner, the defensive back the Patriots signed to a three-year, $16.8 million contract in March, is having trouble picking up the defense of Bill Belichick and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia.

So much so, that he was held out of Sunday night’s game against the Bengals because he is not up to speed with the system, according to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald.

Browner, who missed practice Thursday due to what the team is calling an ankle injury, was held out of the Cincinnati game because he is lagging behind, a source told the Herald. Browner and Brian Tyms were eligible to return against the Bengals after each served four-game suspensions. With Tyms, it appeared to be matter of numbers in the receiving corps. With Browner, it now seems to be a matter of readiness.

Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, Browner’s former teammate, told the Herald in June that the Seahawks gave their corners just one responsibility. Sherman hinted that adding more responsibilities could make him less effective.

Browner may be in the same boat as Darrelle Revis – playing best when he is allowed to play his own game, as WEEI.com’s Chris Price wrote last week. Revis played primarily man coverage against Bengals superstar receiver A.J. Green and posting his best game in a Patriots uniform.

The other factor that figured in slowing Browner’s return to action is the healthy return of Alfonzo Dennard Sunday night after missing the previous three games with a shoulder injury.

Read More: Alfonzo Dennard, Brandon Browner, New England Patriots, Richard Sherman
DB Nate Ebner (finger), OL Cameron Fleming (finger) miss Wednesday practice 10.01.14 at 6:41 pm ET
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Nate Ebner

Nate Ebner

Defensive back Nate Ebner (finger) and offensive lineman Cameron Fleming (finger) were the only two Patriots held out of practice by the team on Wednesday because of injury.

In addition, the Patriots listed four as limited, a group that includes linebackers Dont’a Hightower (knee) and Jamie Collins (thigh), as well as defensive end Chandler Jones (shoulder).

The Patriots continue preparing for their date with the Bengals Sunday night at Gillette Stadium.

Did Not Participate
DB Nate Ebner (finger)
OL Cameron Fleming (finger)

Limited Participation
LB Jamie Collins (thigh)
CB Alfonzo Dennard (shoulder)
LB Dont’a Hightower (knee)
DE Chandler Jones (shoulder)

Full Participation
TE Rob Gronkowski (knee)

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Alfonzo Dennard, Cameron Fleming, chandler jones, Dont'a Hightower
Unlucky Seven: Who will end up sitting against the Chiefs? 09.29.14 at 12:20 pm ET
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Zach Moore

Zach Moore

The Patriots will announce their inactives 90 minutes before kickoff on Monday night, but based on what we’€™ve seen this week and the matchup on Monday, here’€™s our guess as to which seven players might be inactive:

Cornerback Alfonzo Dennard — The third-year corner was downgraded Sunday night — expect Logan Ryan to get the bulk of the snaps in his place.

Running back James White — Unless there’s a major injury in the backfield, the rookie out of Wisconsin appears to be a ticketed for a redshirt year.

Safety Don Jones — Jones, who was signed earlier this month, was listed as probable on Saturday’s injury report, as he’s been nagged by a hamstring issue that kept him out of last Sunday’s game against the Raiders.

Wide receiver Brandon LaFell — The Patriots have a surplus of wide receivers — Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thomplins have each taken at least one health scratch over the course of the first two weeks. From this viewpoint, it’s no disrespect intended toward Lafell — he’s just the one who drew the short straw this week.

Defensive end Zach Moore — Now that second-year defensive end Michael Buchanan is back to full health, the rookie out of Concordia appears to be the odd man out, at least at this point.

Offensive lineman Dan Connolly — The veteran was limited over the course of the week with a knee issue, and with Bill Belichick talking up both Ryan Wendell and Bryan Stork on Saturday, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Patriots sit Connolly for a week.

Defensive lineman Casey Walker — Walker, who was signed off the Panthers practice squad on Saturday following the announcement that Sealver Siliga was placed on short-term IR, will almost certainly take a seat for Monday’s game against the Chiefs as he literally just showed up.

Here’€™s a look at the inactives over the first three weeks of the season:

Week 1
DE Michael Buchanan
WR Aaron Dobson
LB Darius Fleming
DT Chris Jones
G Josh Kline
C Bryan Stork
RB James White

Week 2
DE Michael Buchanan
LB Jamie Collins
CB Alfonzo Dennard
DE Zach Moore
WR Kenbrell Thompkins
C Ryan Wendell
RB James White

Week 3
WR Aaron Dobson
CB Alfonzo Dennard
OL Ryan Wendell
OL Josh Kline
DE Zach Moore
RB James White
S Don Jones

Read More: Alfonzo Dennard, Brandon LaFell, Casey Walker, Dan Connolly
Patriots downgrade CB Alfonzo Dennard to out for Monday’s game 09.28.14 at 9:11 pm ET
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Alfonzo Dennard

Alfonzo Dennard

The Patriots announced Sunday that cornerback Alfonzo Dennard has been downgraded to out for Monday’s game against the Chiefs.

Dennard, who has been struggling with shoulder issues, will be sidelined for the third consecutive game. The 5-foot-10, 204-pound Dennard is in his third season with the Patriots. The 25-year-old has five picks over the course of his career, including three as a rookie in 2012.

With Dennard sidelined, expect a greater workload to fall on the shoulders of second-year corner Logan Ryan, who has seen the bulk of the playing time in Dennard’s place over the last three weeks. It will be interesting to see what happens at the corner spot next week for New England, as veteran Brandon Browner is set to come off his four-game ban following Monday’s game against the Chiefs.

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Alfonzo Dennard, Brandon Browner, Logan Ryan,
Patriots list 6 as probable for Monday, including CB Alfonzo Dennard, TE Rob Gronkowski and LB Jamie Collins 09.27.14 at 4:16 pm ET
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Alfonzo Dennard

Alfonzo Dennard

On Saturday, the Patriots listed six played as probable for Monday night’s game against the Chiefs, including cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, tight end Rob Gronkowski and linebacker Jamie Collins. In addition, the Patriots officially placed defensive lineman Sealver Siliga on injured reserve-designated for return with a foot injury.

Here’s the complete injury report

Did Not Participate — Placed on IR-DFR
DT Sealver Siliga (ankle)

Limited — Probable
DE Michael Buchanan (ankle)
LB Jamie Collins (thigh)
OL Dan Connolly (knee)
CB Alfonzo Dennard (shoulder)
TE Rob Gronkowski (knee)
S Don Jones (hamstring)

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Alfonzo Dennard, Dan Connolly, Don Jones, Jamie Collins
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