Patriots Defensive Back On Road To Recovery
Patriots cornerback Ellis Hobbs is entering his third season as a Patriot. Selected in the third round of the 2005 NFL Draft, Hobbs knows the starting job isn't his, but he's determined to lock it up anyway. Hobbs spoke with the media earlier this week to talk about his recovery from a wrist injury that affected his 2006 performance.
New England Patriots DB Ellis Hobbs, who played with a broken wrist in 2006, says he's feeling better now. While Hobbs only missed one game due to his broken wrist, lack of strength in that wrist raised concerns over his ability to play at a consistent level throughout the season. Hobbs feels that those days are behind him and he's well on the way to being 100% again. He attributes the off-season workout program the Patriots' coaching staff has him doing as the catalyst to getting ready. With his wrist wrapped in a protective brace rather than a hard cast, Hobbs addressed the media at Gillette Stadium Tuesday.
"We have great strength coaches in Mike Woicik, Harold Nash and Don Davis and they're always working around injuries," Hobbs said. "Regardless of what you have they find a way to get a good workout in. We've done a tremendous job of finding those ways, alternating bench presses, alternating anything that I have to push with my wrist and keeping it in a locked place and still using the muscles I need."
Hobbs may not be called upon to take over the lead duties at cornerback, but his experience in the 2006 playoffs proved that he has the ability to overcome the inconsistency that plagued him during the season.
"And as far as just playing and technique-wise, obviously if you take a hand away, it's gonna be difficult, especially in a game that's that physical," Hobbs told the Boston Herald. "But as the season went along, I learned how to adapt to it and use it to my advantage where I found ways around it. And once it got stronger and I felt a little more confident, the pain went away a little bit, I was able to get better jams, make better attempts to knock the ball down or even catch it."
Keeping receivers at bay by jamming them at the line will be a necessity for the 5-foot-9, 190-pound corner. The competition in the AFC East didn't stand pat during the off-season, and one threat in particular will test Hobbs, Miami Dolphins' first round draft pick Ted Ginn Jr.. Ted Ginn Jr., who has world-class speed, will require Hobbs to jam him with that rehabbed wrist in order to slow him down. Ted Ginn Jr. is projected as Miami's second or third receiver, meaning he will likely line up across from Hobbs when the teams meet.
Whether Asante Samuel is back in time for the start of the season or not, Hobbs isn't worried about the competition from his teammates for the starting role at cornerback. He's concerned about playing to the best of his ability and feels his teammates should be doing likewise.
"When I'm on the field and I'm starting, I'm looking at it as I'm the go-to guy," Hobbs told the Boston Herald. "Everybody should look at it like that on defense, where I want to go out there, I want to be the No. 1 guy, I want to make the plays."
For now, the third-year defender is focused on working out the other healthy parts of his body as he recovers. Hobbs is expected to compete for the starting job across from Asante Samuel, who is currently staying away from camp over contract concerns.
New England signed free agents Eddie Jackson (Miami) and Tory James (Cincinnati) for depth. The team selected Notre Dame cornerback Mike Richardson in the sixth round of the 2007 NFL Draft, and signed Boston College defensive back Larry Anam as an undrafted rookie free agent.
Currently the Patriots have 12 defensive backs (corners and those who can play nickel, dime or safety) and 6 safeties listed on the roster. Cornerbacks: Hobbs, Randall Gay, Jackson, James, Richardson, Samuel, Chad Scott, Antwain Spann and Gemara Williams. Defensive backs: Anam, Willie Andrews and Eugene Wilson. Safeties: Rashad Baker, Rodney Harrison, Artrell Hawkins, Mel Mitchell, Brandon Meriweather and James Sanders.
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