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New Orleans Saints LB Jonathan Casillas Shooting Up the Depth Chart

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - FEBRUARY 07: Assistant Head Coach Joe Vitt high fives in the tunnel with #52 Jonathan Casillas of the New Orleans Saints prior to Super Bowl XLIV against the Indianapolis Colts on February 7, 2010 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
Donald Miralle/Getty Images
Paul Augustin, Jr.Senior Analyst IAugust 15, 2010

Shortly before the New Orleans Saints opened up training camp, I made some predictions regarding the final 53-man roster. While some of the position groups are easy to gauge, like quarterback and wide receiver, the outside linebackers gave me trouble.

And it shows.

I had Scott Shanle slotted to start at weakside linebacker and Jo-Lonn Dunbar at strongside. Backing them up were Clint Ingram and Stanley Arnoux.

While it's quite possible that either Shanle or Dunbar end up as one of the starters, I would have laughed if you said two weeks ago that it was equally possible that Jonathan Casillas was going to be the other starter on the outside.

The second year linebacker went undrafted out of Wisconsin and made just 17 tackles as a rookie.

It seems like he had almost that many tackles in the first half against the New England Patriots in the first preseason game. He was one of the lone bright spots for a defense that missed a lot of tackles and didn't force a turnover.

Casillas, who was starting in place of an injured Scott Shanle, put on a performance that forced the Saints' hand. He is now listed as the official starter at weakside and Shanle has moved over to strongside, demoting Jo-Lonn Dunbar.

Only time will tell if Casillas will let success get to his head or drive him to get even better.

Keep an eye on number 52 in the next game against the Houston Texans and for the rest of the preseason to see the progress the young linebacker makes.

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