The New England Patriots have one big 53-man roster sleeper at defensive end in former Cleveland Browns 3-4 outside linebacker Marcus Benard, who delivered a choice quote yesterday on rushing the passer. Benard also spoke about the opportunity to make the Patriots roster, and he sounds like exactly kind of the guy this team could use as a rotational pass rusher. His quote about going after the passer was excellent, and his thoughts on doing whatever it takes to help this team are heart-warming.
Benard said, via the Boston Herald, “As far as my role, whatever they want me to do, I’ll do it. If it’s not pass rushing, if it’s special teams, if it’s running down on kickoffs, hitting the wedge, whatever they need to help my team win, I’m going to do.”
Based on his excellent performances during 1-on-1 drills, I have Marcus Benard stealing one of the final roster spots available and being a rotational defensive end on this team over the likes of Jermaine Cunningham and Michael Buchanan (I have him locked onto the practice squad). That’s a very tentative set-up, though, because Benard still has to prove his in-game ability during the preseason. As Bill Belichick stated, 1-on-1s are nice, but they don’t tell the whole story, and they especially don’t tell how Benard fits as a 4-3 defensive end. I’m hoping for a good preseason out of Benard, because he once recorded 7.5 sacks in a season with the Browns and can provide another dimension to the Patriots pass rush with his speed.
He also said this about his love for the game, “It was tough. This is what I love to do. This is what I’m used to doing. I’ve been playing this sport for a long time. Definitely not playing was tough for me. But you know, it just kept me hungry, kept me grinding even more.”