FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- When asked about safety James Ihedigbo on Friday, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick lauded the fifth-year defensive back's contributions after being signed on Aug. 19., calling him a "real good addition to this team."
More significantly, Belichick singled out Ihedigbo, defensive end Andre Carter, and guard Brian Waters as veteran additions whose contributions he has "appreciated" this season.
"[They] are guys that have come onto this team from other teams that have showed a high degree of leadership as well as just being able to do their job, have some flexibility, throw different things at them but they can handle it, they can process it, it doesn’t faze them, they’re able to make adjustments either quickly or in their role whatever it happens to be and approach the game with very professional and attitude," Belichick said.
"They’re well prepared, they’re calm under pressure. They can handle things flying around in a game that are different or a little bit unsettling but they’re able to handle those."
While other, bigger-name offseason additions such as defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth or wide receiver Chad Ochocinco haven't brought the results some may have hoped, all three of these under-the-radar signings have played major roles this season.
Taking a look at each player's 2011 performance and contract status:
James Ihedigbo -- 15 games played, 11 starts, 69 tackles, one penalty; 28 years old; March 2012 unrestricted free agent
Andre Carter -- 14 games played, 14 starts (placed on injured reserve Week 15), 52 tackles, 10.0 sacks, two forced fumbles, two penalties; selected as Pro Bowl starter; 32 years old; March 2012 unrestricted free agent
Brian Waters -- 15 games played, 15 starts, four penalties; selected as Pro Bowl starter; 34 years old; signed through 2012 season at $1.4 million base salary in 2012