Richard Seymour: "Not Holding Back"

<p>The New England Patriots defense hasn't been the same since all-pro defensive end Richard Seymour went down with injury the day after Christmas against the Jets. Head Coach Bill Belichick and defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel have schemed around the missing lineman and asked backups Jarvis Green and Ty Warren to step it up a notch. Both have answered the call.</p> <p>Site contributor Michael Reardon take a look at Seymour and his impact on the team. </p>

PHOTO: New England Patriots defensive tackle Richard Seymour (93) and defensive end Anthony Pleasant (98) during their AFC Championship game against the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday, Jan. 27, 2002 in Pittsburgh. The Patriots take on the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI on Sunday, Feb. 3, 2002 in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)

Richard Seymour: "Not Holding Back"
By Michael Reardon, Site Contributor

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick confirmed this week that Pro-Bowl defensive lineman Richard Seymour will be ready to play in the Super Bowl this Sunday. Seymour has been held out of action since December 26th when New York Jets center Kevin Mawae fell onto his knee. Wednesday was Seymour's first practice in nearly six weeks, and according to team officials and Seymour himself, the practice went very well.

"I didn't feel [tentative] or anything, and I'm not holding back, not in the Super Bowl," said the 6'6"" 310 pound lineman, "[The injury] doesn't concern me in the least."

"He did everything we asked him to do, so he's good to go," said Belichick.

Seymour is one of the best players on the New England defense and a pivotal piece to the defensive line. He has great quickness and strength and understands blocking schemes very well. He also has great versatility, and he can be effective at both defensive end when the Patriots use the 3-4 and at interior lineman when they go to a 4-3. This trait is especially useful on a defensive scheming team like the Patriots that like to throw different looks at an opposing offense from week to week and even from play to play.

Seymour acknowledged that is not 100 percent yet, but feels he can contribute and have a positive impact for Sunday. Even if he's not at full strength, Seymour could be very useful during in key third down plays or in the red zone. Also, Seymour will be highly motivated to play in his third Super Bowl and won't have to worry about keeping himself healthy for another game next week.

While the return of Seymour unquestionably improves the New England defensive front and opens up more options for this Sunday's game, the unit has been performing well even without their centerpiece player.

This is in part due to 3rd year defensive end Jarvis Green taking advantage of the increase playing time that Seymour's injury has afforded him. In the past three games with Seymour out, Green has been the most productive lineman in the group with 14 total tackles, 8 solo tackles, 1 sack, and 1 forced fumble. These solid numbers are even more impressive when you consider that Green's 14 tackles match his production in the rest of the regular season. Also, a large chunk of Green's numbers came in the Steelers game against one of the better offensive line units in the league.

Aside from Green's production, another key to the defensive line unit's success is because, like the New England secondary, the unit has good depth and, from top to bottom, is filled with players who can actually play and produce in the NFL. The Patriots contributing defensive line group includes Green, Ty Warren, Vincent Wilfork, and Keith Traylor. If you take out the veteran Traylor and add up the accumulated NFL experience of that group, you get 6. Add Seymour to that list and you still only have 10.

This is a young, talented group of players that can stay relatively fresh throughout a game because of the rotation that the Patriots use up front. And now, after contributing to the demise of two teams toting the NFL's best passing attack and best running attack in two consecutive weeks, it has its best player back.

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