So who are the starters of this group? Lofton is a 100% lock if healthy at middle linebacker. Period, end of story. David Hawthorne is an attractive player the Saints just landed in free agency that's capable of playing in the middle, but he's a virtual certainty to start as an outside backer assuming nothing happens to Lofton. If Lofton was out, Hawthorne would likely move to the middle. But I think it's a very safe assumption the two highly paid for newcomers will be lined up next to each other on opening day.
That leaves one starting spot for Scott Shanle, Jonathan Casillas, Will Herring and Chris Chamberlain to battle for. Shanle always seems to handle any competition thrown his way and maintain his starter spot every year, and perhaps this year won't be any different. Still, there's a lot of compelling cases for these four to start. Shanle is certainly the most experienced and trusted of the four - he's a known quantity, he's reliable and the Saints know what they will get from him. Casillas is by far the most athletic and has the highest ceiling, but injuries have severely stunted his improvement. Will Herring could see time even if he doesn't start because he's the best of the bunch in coverage. Chamberlain will make the team thanks to special teams ability at the very least, but he's a guy that Steve Spagnuolo loves from his time in St. Louis and you have to figure he's the teacher's pet of the bunch. So you've got one guy on the wrong side of 30 that's proven, one guy that is the most athletic but most unproven, one guy that covers well, and one that the new defensive coordinator feels most comfortable with. That's quite a dichotomy when you think about it and I could truly see the Saints going any of four different ways with their third starter. I think this battle for the 3rd starting linebacker spot will be one of the most compelling of training camp.
Who do you think starts opening day alongside Hawthorne and Lofton? Shanle, Casillas, Herring or Chamberlain?
I'm going with the obvious.
And I say Shanle because both Loomis and Michael "The Beerman" Lewis told me he has had the most outstanding camp since he's been a Saint.
And that's saying a lot, actually.
With that said, I love the speed of Casillas, but we can't count on his durability. Believe me, if he could stay healthy, he'd be a lock. But, he hasn't.
If he IS healthy however, I could see him used on passing downs, or as a blitzing LB because of his speed.
@DARKTHRONE interesting comment on Shanle. It's amazing, he seems to have something that just continually impresses the staff. I wouldn't be mad if he started again. I think he's underrated.
He is underrated. And the dude has never broken a bone in his life to this day!!!!!
I've about destroyed my skeleton at this point!!! hahaha...
The dude is flat-out DURABLE.
And that's something no NFLer can really count on.
I'd say Shanle is blessed, in a weird way.
Take it easy and keep up the good work!
SAINTS WILL DESTROY
I think with kinda LB on yhe right in Wilson and 2 kinda MLBs as starters you will need a pass rusher on the left. I really like Cassilas. Shanly would be a good mix to put in at 2nd string... But I think it depends per play. Cassilas in then Harper needs to cover more. Got a good TE, then play Gerring, let harper not cover that guy alone... So it depends on the opponent really. But my guess is Cassilas.
@MarijnPessers I definitely think you'll see substitutions based on the opponent/situation, but less so than what you saw in the past with GW.
I'm really thinking they're gonna utilize Martez at DE. But I wouldn't be surprised if he played in some LB packages.
With 'Tez size, it's almost a damn shame he isn't a MLB... but we got that covered.
And you brought up Herring covering... good man! I remember him picking Eli off in the endzone last season.
I like him too if he's healthy.
He and Hawthorne should be familiar w/each other from their time with the Suckhawks.
All-in-all better LB corps if you're asking me.
But nobody has yet!
Be stellar bro!