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Banta-Cain needs to spark Pats' pass rush

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Recent posts by Kevin Fishbain

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Posted Sept. 29, 2010 @ 7:08 p.m. ET
By Kevin Fishbain

Each Wednesday throughout the season we'll identify one player, coach or area of the team that is most under the microscope. This week, OLB Tully Banta-Cain is the choice.

OLB Tully Banta-Cain had a standout season in 2009 with 55 tackles and 10 sacks, both career bests. He recorded 1½ sacks in the first two games this season, but did not get the start in Week Three against the Bills and totaled only one tackle.

With the Patriots' pass rush non-existent this season (New England sacked Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick just one time when the Bills had given up seven sacks in their first two games), they could use Banta-Cain to regain his ’09 form, especially this Monday night against the Dolphins.

Head coach Bill Belichick sent the veteran a message by starting rookie OLB Jermaine Cunningham and OLB Rob Ninkovich. Cunningham has looked good and Ninkovich is racking up tackles. But the Patriots' defense as a whole is better when Banta-Cain is getting into the opponent's backfield.

Putting Miami's emerging passing attack up against a weak Patriots secondary, it's clear that an effective pass rush could be New England's key to victory Monday night. It's just a question of which Banta-Cain will show up.


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