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Ihedigbo re-signing adds to Patriots' training-camp battles

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Posted July 05, 2012 @ 6:15 p.m. ET
By Kevin Fishbain

The Patriots re-signed S James Ihedigbo late last month, bringing back a player whose contributions in 2011 exceeded expectations. Injuries at safety thrust Ihedigbo, who had mainly been a special-teams contributor during his time with the Jets, into the starting lineup in New England for 12 games. He finished the season ranked fifth on the team in tackles.

With Ihedigbo back in the fold, the Pats certainly have depth at safety — a position that has been a symbol of instability for the franchise in the past couple seasons. Free-agent newcomer Steve Gregory is slotted to start opposite Patrick Chung, and Ihedigbo helps create what will be intriguing training-camp battles that highlight the team’s stockpile of safeties, as well as special-teamers.

Ihedigbo will compete with second-round DB Tavon Wilson to be the team’s No. 3 safety. Josh Barrett is a player to keep an eye on. The Pats had high hopes for him last season before a thumb injury ended his campaign, and with Ihedigbo back aboard, we hear Barrett will have to work to prove himself this summer to secure his spot in the defensive rotation. S Sergio Brown struggled last season and is very much on the roster bubble. Veteran newcomer Will Allen reportedly spent some time at safety in the spring, and Ihedigbo's return makes Allen far from a lock to make the roster.

As we alluded to with regards to the Patriots’ receiving corps, there is plenty of depth at special teams, and Ihedigbo added to that, joining former Jet Marquice Cole, 2011 seventh-rounder Malcolm Williams and 2012 sixth-rounder Nate Ebner. Having Ihedigbo back in the fold reinforces the fact that Bill Belichick will have some difficult decisions to make when forming his 53-man roster, especially in the secondary.

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