Inside Linebacker

Discussion in ' - Patriots Fan Forum' started by jmt57, Jul 29, 2010.

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  1. jmt57

    jmt57 Moderator Staff Member Supporter

    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 Supporter

    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 Supporter

    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 Rotational Player and Threatening Starter's Job

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

    jmt57 Moderator Staff Member Supporter

    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 Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

    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 Supporter

    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?



    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 Supporter Supporter

    #3 Jersey

    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 Third String But Playing on Special Teams

    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 Veteran Supporter

    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

    K 1
    P 1
    LS 1
    ST 1

  11. SEPatsFan

    SEPatsFan Practice Squad Player

    #91 Jersey

    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...

  12. IllegalContact

    IllegalContact Pro Bowl Player would be unreasonable
  13. jmt57

    jmt57 Moderator Staff Member Supporter

    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 Supporter

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

    McKenzie Hits Home With Fans by Mike Petraglia of

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

    Last edited: Jul 31, 2010
  15. KontradictioN

    KontradictioN Do you even lift? Supporter

    No Jersey Selected

    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 Supporter

    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 Supporter

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

    Postional Previews – Inside Linebackers | Patriots Daily

  18. jmt57

    jmt57 Moderator Staff Member Supporter

    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 Supporter Supporter

    #12 Jersey

    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 Veteran Supporter

    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.
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