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  1. jmt57

    jmt57 Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    While other positions have roster battles that will be settled during training camp, many if not most are assuming the Pats leave camp with four ILB's: Mayo, Guyton, McKenzie and Spikes, and the only thing that will be settled is how much playing time each of the latter three get on the field alongside Mayo. Does that mean Alexander is done? How about Thomas Williams, does he have a chance to make the club?

    Here are the Inside Linebackers in this year's training camp:

    • #51 Jerod Mayo 6-1, 242, age 24, 3rd year; 1st round in '08 (10th overall)
    • #59 Gary Guyton 6-3, 242, 25, 3rd year; UDFA in '08
    • #44 Tyrone McKenzie 6-2, 245, 25, 2nd year; 3rd round (#89) in '09
    • #55 Brandon Spikes 6-2, 250, 23, rookie; 2nd round (#62) in '10
    • #52 Eric Alexander 6-2, 240, 28, 6th year; UDFA in '04
    • #48 Thomas Williams 6-1, 240, 26, 2nd year; 5th round (Jaguars) in '08
    In an emergency, Rob Ninkovich could move inside also.
  2. jmt57

    jmt57 Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Tedy Bruschi comments on the unit and notes the Pats like to stay away from labeling a player as strongside or weakside, similar to what they do at safety and corner.

    Tedy Bruschi and Mike Reiss break down the New England Patriots heading into training camp - ESPN Boston

    I think the combination of Jerod Mayo, Gary Guyton, Brandon Spikes and Tyrone McKenzie is a good group at inside linebacker. Look for all four players to get experience at both spots -- the "Mike" and the "Will." It's vital that the inside linebackers have experience at both inside spots. The reads and responsibilities can be very different and it's very easy for an offense to flip a formation to make the linebackers change their assignments to the other position. Think about a tight end that shifts from one side of the formation to another. If the linebackers don't move, the "Mike" now becomes the "Will" and vice versa. This is a tactic used by offenses to exploit young linebacking corps.
  3. jmt57

    jmt57 Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald comments on the group in her piece Focusing on key battle lines.

    Locks to start: Jerod Mayo

    Prime contenders: Gary Guyton, Tyrone McKenzie, Brandon Spikes.

    Battle lines -- This is essentially the spot on the inside next to Mayo in the 3-4 defensive alignment. The incredibly athletic Guyton didn’t show himself to be the most effective every down backer on the inside, particularly against the run. He may prove to be the best in sub packages. McKenzie, a third-round pick who blew out his knee during rookie camp last year, is anxious to let people see what he can do. Spikes, the rookie from Florida, already looks like he could be a difference-maker and at some point take over as a Tedy Bruschi-like presence alongside Mayo.

    Subplot -- Thomas Williams, who was on the practice squad last season, turned some heads during mini-camp. He was on the field a lot, and not just with the defense. The addition of 13 pounds of muscle since last season, bringing him up to 248 pounds, has allowed some versatility. During organized team activies and minicamp, he was used as a fullback on offense. Can this darkhorse, whom Belichick appears to like, possibily find a spot on the roster?
  4. BradyMossWelker

    BradyMossWelker Rookie

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    I think Spikes will start. But I'd like McKenzie to start. THat guy was a beast.
  5. jmt57

    jmt57 Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    NESN's Jeff Howe believes the Patriots' Young Linebacking Corps Gives Bill Belichick Room for Creativity in 2010

    Howe goes on to speculate that Guyton could be used at OLB, a theory which was shot down in the OLB thread (unless the Pats go to a 4-3 alignment.) However, with four young athletic players at the position, there are indeed plenty of combinations at Belichick's disposal depending on opponent, or down and distance.
  6. JSn

    JSn Rookie

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    Would a semi-regular use of a 2-5 type of thing be unreasonable?

    Guyton has a lot of assets that make me want him on the field, but with two big-time LB's at inside... thoughts?
  7. jmt57

    jmt57 Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Bruce Allen of Patriots Daily takes a long look at each of the six ILBs. He thinks Guyton might be the starter next to Mayo at the start of the season, but if he's still starting in December then that is a bad sign. He also thinks Williams is a sleeper who could make the team, but Alexander is most likely no longer needed. Allen also says Spikes could be the starter from day one, but expects to see plenty of both him and McKenzie on the field this year.

    Postional Previews – Inside Linebackers | Patriots Daily

    This figures to be one of the most competitive positions in camp, as the Patriots line up candidates to start beside Jerod Mayo. I’m genuinely intrigued by this group, as the team has been trying to find a starting pair in the middle since 2005 when Ted Johnson and Roman Phifer retired. Tedy Bruschi had several partners before Mayo arrived in 2008, then retired prior to last season. Can a couple players from this group step in to be the Johnson/Phifer to Mayo’s Bruschi?

    ...

    Summary

    During the preseason, this is going to be one of the most-watched positions on the team. For the first time in several years it looks to be a competitive spot with some intriguing young talent that could break through. If Spikes or McKenzie can make Guyton a backup and situational player, than things will be looking up. If they can’t pass Guyton on the depth chart, the Patriots might need to go back to the drawing board yet again at this position.
  8. ctpatsfan77

    ctpatsfan77 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Yeah, I'd like to see that happen too. I'm fairly sure we'll see a lot of Guyton on 3rd down in any case.
  9. RussFrancis

    RussFrancis Rookie

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    Guyton isnt physical enough, and doesnt make enough plays for my liking. Especially considering the speed the man has been blessed with. He's good in space, and in coverage, but he doesnt a hunger to seek out the ball, and I just dont think he's aggressive enough on the inside to be a consistent difference maker. Im hoping either Spikes or McKenzie step up and take that other ILB spot.
  10. mgteich

    mgteich PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I see Williams and Alexander competing for the last three roster spots. In the end, these can come from any position. This year I have a core roster allocation as listed below. As we know, even when the 53 is "set", there are often cuts and signings before Game Two. For me except at DL, all these 50 are set, barring major surprises or injuries.

    OFFENSE (23)
    QB 2
    RB 4
    WR 6
    OL 8
    TE 3

    DEFENSE (23)
    DL 6
    LB 9
    CB 4
    S 4

    SPECIALISTS (4)
    K 1
    P 1
    LS 1
    ST 1

    THE LAST ROSTER SPOTS (3)
  11. SEPatsFan

    SEPatsFan Rookie

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    A 2-5 is basically just a 4-3 with the DEs (or in this case 3-4 OLBs) with their hands off of the ground...

    SSDD
  12. IllegalContact

    IllegalContact Rookie

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    yes....it would be unreasonable
  13. jmt57

    jmt57 Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    A profile and prediction for Tyrone McKenzie from Pats Pulpit, whom they project to be the Pats #4 ILB.

    Patriots Roster Prediction #36: ILB Tyrone McKenzie - Pats Pulpit

    Personally I won't be the least bit surprised if McKenzie is on the field at least as much, if not more than both Guyton and Spikes this year.
  14. jmt57

    jmt57 Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Tyrone McKenzie draws some attention on the second day of training camp.

    McKenzie Hits Home With Fans by Mike Petraglia of WEEI.com


    After Year Away From Football Field, Tyrone McKenzie Making Presence Felt at Patriots Camp by Jeff Howe of NESN.com

    [​IMG]
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2010
  15. KontradictioN

    KontradictioN Do you even lift? PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #24 Jersey

    I've heard of Williams taking reps at FB. If that's the case, he might be competing for a roster spot there instead of ILB.
  16. jmt57

    jmt57 Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Some observations on ILBs from Patriots Football Weekly, from training camp thus far.

    7/29 - Training Camp 1 Observations
    At one point early in practice Belichick took a lot of time working with the defense, and the linebackers in particular. Belichick was discussing/showing some specific technique stuff with both Jerod Mayo and Gary Guyton.

    7/29: Practice 2 Observations
    The sides broke up into two groups for some team work. With Brady and Hoyer leading one offense and Zac Robinson leading the other. In one running rep Tyrone McKenzie did a nice job taking on a pulling Nick Kaczur, fighting off the block and then wrapping up the running back. McKenzie certainly looks the part and has the hard-nosed style of a run-first inside linebacker.

    Brady had some real highs and lows during an exciting red zone segment late in practice. First, he hit Randy Moss for a score, beating McCourty. He also found rookie tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez for touchdowns, both coming at the expense of Patrick Chung. But in between he put a quick play action throw right into Gary Guyton’s hands for what would have been a potential 100-yard interception return for a touchdown. Guyton showed good hands and reflexes to make the play.


    7/30: Practice 3 Observations
    * During the Team D vs. Team O action in the latter stages of the morning, rookie inside linebacker Dane Fletcher of Montana State made a very nice, athletic play to break up a pass. Backup QB Brian Hoyer executed a perfect play-action fake before firing a pass about 45 degrees to his left, intended for a crossing Edelman some 15 yards downfield. Fletcher, though, read the play and timed his leap just right to bat the ball to the ground midway on its course toward Edelman.

    * The play of the day, however, was made by sophomore inside linebacker Tyrone McKenzie. On one goal line series, with the offense already having trouble punching the ball in, the call was a handoff to Laurence Maroney, who ran toward the B-gap. McKenzie read the play and shot the gap, meeting Maroney head-on and displaying textbook tackling technique (head up, shoulders square, both arms wrapped around). The collision of pads created a loud crack that echoed across the field and into the overflowing bleachers of spectators, who roared in applause as McKenzie drove Maroney back and kept him out of the end zone. McKenzie’s helmet flew off in the process and he got up from the play sufficiently pumped up as he celebrated demonstrably with his defensive teammates.


    7/30: Practice 4 Observations
    * The action was fast and furious in the RB-LB drill. Eric Alexander made the most impressive move, and made it look way too easy, against BenJarvus Green-Ellis, swimming past the running back and tossing Green-Ellis aside as he charged untouched to the quarterback for what would have been an easy sack. Kevin Faulk led the charge for the running backs. The savvy vet didn’t fall for any of the moves his various opponents tried on him.

    * After one decent effort by Dane Fletcher, Faulk pulled the rookie ILB aside and offered some advice on how to get better leverage against a blocker, demonstrating proper hand placement and technique to Fletcher, who nodded and appeared grateful for the unsolicited tip.
  17. jmt57

    jmt57 Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Bruce Allen of Patriots Daily gives his preview of the ILB unit.

    Postional Previews – Inside Linebackers | Patriots Daily

  18. jmt57

    jmt57 Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    More camp notes from Patriots Football Weekly:


    Sunday AM - Official Patriots Football Weekly Blog Blog Archive From the Hart: Practice 7 observations

    Again, for what it’s worth at this point, the three groups of inside linebacker include Jerod Mayo with Gary Guyton, Brandon Spikes with Dane Fletcher and Tyrone McKenzie with Eric Alexander. It’s possible that more than any depth chart indication, that the coaches want to see guys with Mike-like roles get their reps calling the defenses rather than lining up next to each other.


    Sunday PM - Official Patriots Football Weekly Blog Blog Archive From the Hart: Practice 8 observations

    A lot of one-on-one passing action took place early in practice with the WRs working against the DBs and the LBs against the RBs. Taylor Price beat Devin McCourty on a nice deep ball down the right sideline on a pass from Zac Robinson. Rob Gronkowski beat Gary Guyton. Darius Butler had a nice pass defensed on a bomb intended for Brandon Tate. Kevin Faulk beat Brandon McGowan. Gronkowski then had another nice reception over Guyton, jumping and coming down with the ball just inside the sideline. As has been the case in the first couple practices, Brandon Spikes always seems to hold his receiver in the one-on-one coverage. Overall it appeared that the receivers got the better of the defenders on both ends of the field in the segment.


    Monday AM - Official Patriots Football Weekly Blog Blog Archive Quick Kicks: Practice 9 observations

    Later in 7-on-7, Sam Aiken made a nice leaping catch from Brady on an in-route. Linebacker Tyrone McKenzie was right there with Aiken and, had these been game conditions, would likely have dropped a hammer on Aiken. Even though the players were in full pads, there was virtually no hitting at this morning’s practice.
  19. Rob0729

    Rob0729 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Nice work jmt57!

    I think the ILB corp is the one group I am most excited about. If the reports of McKenzie and Spikes so far in camp translate to real play, the Spikes/McKenzie/Mayo rotation could rival the Bruschi/Phifer/Johnson trio of the early part of last decade (or this decade depending on how you keep score).
  20. AndyJohnson

    AndyJohnson PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    But regardless of how good Spikes and McK are Guyton may be the Phifer part of that example, playing in passing situations.
    Ted Johnson was awesome in his early years. But by time BB arrived after numeros injuries he was a shadow of himself.
    I'd be thrilled if these guys turn into the 1996 or so version of TJ but very disappointed in they are not far better than TJ of the Championship years.
  21. jmt57

    jmt57 Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    WEEI's Christopher Price profiles two versatile ILBs.

    It Is What It Is Rating the Roster, Training Camp Edition (Part 2)

    63. Linebacker/fullback Thomas Williams: Williams spent most of the regular season on the practice squad, but was activated before the playoff game to the Ravens. The 6-foot-1, 240-pound Williams, an inside linebacker, does have some positional versatility — he’s seen some time at fullback, and considering the fact that New England doesn’t have a full-time fullback currently on the roster, even his occasional presence there would improve his chances of making the final roster.

    62. Linebacker Eric Alexander: A special teamer who has managed to stick around for seven seasons in New England, Alexander is a testament to persistence. Signed as a rookie free agent out of LSU in 2004, he’s either been waived or released three times by always managed to find his way back.
  22. jmt57

    jmt57 Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Price also profiles Tyrone McKenzie.

    It Is What It Is Rating the Roster, Training Camp Edition (Part 3)

    54. Linebacker Tyrone McKenzie: McKenzie, who suffered a bad knee injury during rookie minicamp and was lost for the entire 2009 season, will be tossed into a great positional battle at inside linebacker opposite Jerod Mayo, one that includes Gary Guyton and Brandon Spikes. Considering he was on the shelf all last season, I imagine that the Patriots want to ease the 6-foot-2, 240-pound McKenzie into the mix gently — he was running with the No. 2 defense during spring practices. But if he has a good training camp, he could be right there with Spikes and Guyton once September rolls around.

    =====

    In several threads the subject of moving an ILB such as McKenzie or Guyon outside has been brought up, and the consensus has been that it could work in a 4-3 but not in the 3-4.

    In another thread today, the subject of McKenzie came up in regards to the two ILB spots. It was pointed out by italia44 - a forum member whom I long ago came to the conclusion has far more football knowledge than I do - that the two ILB spots are not interchangeable, nor are the four ILBs.

    http://www.patsfans.com/new-england...-idle-thoughts-going-camping.html#post1871758
    http://www.patsfans.com/new-england...thoughts-going-camping-page2.html#post1872391

    Any of the other strong X and O folks with an opinion on this? It's the first I have read of McKenzie being portrayed in this manner - I had thought of he and Spikes competing with each other to play alongside Mayo - but italia44's assessment seems to make sense. Any thoughts? Agree or disagree?
  23. AndyJohnson

    AndyJohnson PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    My 2 cents.
    Since we have never flip-flopped ILBs to the strength of the formation, our ILBs are aligned as LILB and RILB, and on any given play either is the S or W, as opposed to designating one to play on the strong side and one on the weak.
    Bruschi commented on this last week, if someone can find it, (I imagine you could if anyone could JMT57).
    My experience is that in the NFL it is closer to 50/50 that the left or right is strong than that one is almost always (as in the 70s-80s when the defensive left was predominantly the strong side).
    So, my opinion is that yes, the ILBs are interchangable.
  24. mgteich

    mgteich PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    My question is which inside linebackers do you want on the field on running downs, on third and 4, on third and long?

    Are they really the same? I don't think so. I want Guyton on the field on passing downs.

    The really good thing is that we will start the season with four solid options at ILB. This is a MUCH better situation than in 2009.
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2010
  25. Destroyer

    Destroyer Rookie

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    For sure, I can't see Spikes being above average in coverage and being used in that capacity. I see him as a two down linebacker, then getting the hell out of there on pure passing downs unless he's being used as a blitzer or covering an underneath route with a zone assignment.
  26. AndyJohnson

    AndyJohnson PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I havent seen enough of Spikes to grade him in coverage, but I really think this is a misconception born from his 40 time.
    What I have seen of him at Florida showed him making a fair amount of plays in coverage and he good in his drops.
    What I see out of Spikes is the head of a LB. A true 'born to be' LB diagnoses the play naturally and finds the ball. (A brings a thump when he arrives) That kind of guy is fine in coverage, and we aren't talking about getting 30 yards deep in a Tampa2, we are talking about a reasonably small zone to cover.
    An ILB playing zone coverage has very little to do with speed. They take a drop that they have plenty of time to get to, but has everything to do with being conscious of where the receivers are coming from and going to within the zone.
    I'm not saying Spikes will be good in coverage,but the real traits that I see as important to it, are the ones he has, and the 40 times isnt real relevant.
  27. AndyJohnson

    AndyJohnson PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    of course since you already posted it in this thread my comment is both correct and pointless :rolleyes:
  28. italia44

    italia44 Rookie

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    Thanks for your kind words,JMT57......I'm lurking here a lot as I'm disabled and have a lot of hi-tech gizmos at my disposal.I have 2 DVR's for my TV and a seperate Hard Drive on my hand built 'puter,just for previous patriot games.

    Strangley,I like to keep games that are losses,more than blowout wins(go figure).I don't like to jump in to threads that often,but I have such a passion for this team,that sometimes I can't help myself when posters start talking about moving linebackers around like they were chess pieces.

    I particularly love great linebacker play and even more........linebacker design,in the 3-4.

    I went back and looked at Mayo's play in his rookie year and Harris for the jets.....these a 2 superior lb's......however,Mayo is best at the WILB....this is his natural position,like Harris.I understand why we had to move him,last year,as Guyton cannot play the strong side....too bad,it really hurt us.

    I'm obsessed with 2 things this year:
    1.Get Mayo back in position,at all cost
    2.Get the RDE position stabilized.

    It's not the OLB's or even the pass rush,it's the interior that needs to be fixed....the rest will fall into place.

    I looked over some games of the Ravens.....you can not move that front 3......that is what makes them a great defense.We can be almost as good with Wilfork,if we have a RDE that is bigger and is able to get some penetration.Jarvus Green and Mike Wright could not do this.....too light. I believe BB see this,and will trade speed for bulk,to keep the constant double team off of Vince.I'm hoping it's Warren....he's got the size and he's smart.

    I love Tyrone McKenzie......however,he's too small to play next to Mayo at SILB.Like Harris,Mayo needs to attack the gap and blitz....that's his strength.If someone can just play 2-gap at RDE,then you just need a smart set of players at SILB and Right Safety(Spikes and Chung).THis will be our base defense.

    McKenzie and Guyton are gravy on top....but if we can get that 2 down base defense set,then you will not be able to come back on this team.....not with that offense.
  29. AndyJohnson

    AndyJohnson PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I'm curious about what you saw on that tape.
    Are you saying that you saw Mayo switching sides and lining up on the strongside every play. I dont have the games to go back to, only my memory and comments such as Bruschis but I do not remember us ever having the ILBs switch sides based upon formation.
    Are you saying that you want Mayo on the defensive right side because it is more likely to be the weak side, or stating that BBs practice is to have the ILB switch sides based on offensive alignment?
  30. italia44

    italia44 Rookie

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    No.....The patriots don't switch.....it's less confusing to use LILB and RILB.Mayo should be at LILB,regardless to where the TE lines up.
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