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In 2012, OTAs revealed Rob Ninkovich was moving back to defensive end after spending three seasons with the Pats as a linebacker. Ninkovich still played some linebacker, but the evolution in the Pats defensive scheme was clear in June.
Will the Pats tweak their defense again? It would certainly make sense.
The only starter on defense who isn't returning is Kyle Love. The player who surpassed him at the end of the season, Brandon Deaderick, isn't returning either. Both were bigger, run-stopping players.
Could the Pats be moving toward a better pass-rushing defensive tackle?
The likely starting replacement is veteran Tommy Kelly, who has the versatility to play anywhere on the defensive line. Kelly is built more like a player the Pats traditionally use as a defensive end, but he gives them a number of options to mix and match their defensive front.
Kelly is another attempt to pair Wilfork with a complementary big body. Albert Haynesworth was 2011's attempt. If Kelly can be better against the pass on early downs than Love or Deaderick, the Patriots will have improved their defense significantly.
Armond Armstead is an intriguing player—given his quickness—who could be utilized from a number of positions as well, but he will likely best fit as a situational rusher in nickel-and-dime packages—the role Jermaine Cunningham held for most of 2012.
It's unlikely the Patriots are headed back to the 3-4 defense of the last decade, as the hybrid 4-3 is here to stay, but whatever tweaks they have made to their base defense—schematic or personnel-wise—will be apparent in June.