With Jason Taylor signing with the Miami Dolphins, the focus of attention turns into the the position that a lot of people feel will be the Patriots' Achilles heel this coming season. However, the Patriots are not concerned.
Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio had this to say when asked why the Patriots didn't draft an outside linebacker, "I think we've got players on our team that we feel good about, between A.D. [Thomas], Pierre [Woods], we signed Tully Banta-Cain, Shawn Crable didn't have an opportunity to play last year."
Caserio further expressed confidence with their current personnel at OLB stating, "We looked at our team as it was currently configured, and we felt comfortable with those guys. They've got different levels of experience. Some have played at a higher level than others."
Let's take a closer look on the outside linebackers in the roster and understand the reason why they are comfortable with what they have.
1. Adalius Thomas
A.D. was on course to a double-digit sack season in 2008 before an injury barred him from doing so. It was evident last season that A.D was finally comfortable with the system and expect more from him this coming season. Expect him to improve on his 34-tackle and five-sack performance from last season
2. Pierre Woods
Until recently, Woods has been a decent backup at OLB. This coming season he may be called on to take over Mike Vrabel's spot. Woods' best game as a starter came against the Jets (taking over A.D Thomas' spot) where he tallied nine tackles and one sack.
3. Tully Banta Cain
TBC is probably the best situational pass rusher in the current lineup of the Patriots. He also had his best season with the Patriots in 2006 where he tallied 43 tackles and 5.5 sacks. TBC is the perfect example on how Belichick perfectly uses players to their strengths.
4. Shawn Crable
If Crable lives up to his billing (a third rounder), potential, and works hard, Crable might be the starter by week 9 or week 10. This guy has size, speed, and the skill set that the Patriots look for in an outside linebacker. The only problem is he was drafted at a weight of 247 lbs., if he has bulked up and gotten stronger since he was drafted, expect Crable to be the next Mike Vrabel.
The Patriots may still add an outside linebacker before training camp, but for now the Patriots have confidence with who they have at linebacker. And if you remember correctly, the last guy whom the Patriots have placed their confidence on is currently a franchise quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs, Matt Cassel, who led the Patriots to a 11-5 season last year.