‘Will’ LB Dannell Ellerbe renew his success with the New Orleans Saints?


It’s not a matter of can.  If you’re in the NFL, anybody “can.”  It’s a matter of will.  Will he find success at the next level?  He certainly can, because if you’ve made it to the pros, the potential is obviously there.  Dannell Ellerbe proves my point after entering the league as an undrafted free agent with the Baltimore Ravens in 2009.

He eventually found that success.  He stepped into a starting role in 2011 for three games for an injured Ray Lewis.  His first real commendable outing came in 2012 after another Lewis injury.  Ellerbe started seven games and helped lead Charm City’s football team to a Super Bowl title.

Dannell Ellerbe would sign with the Miami Dolphins the following season, totaling 101 tackles, two interceptions and a sack for a mediocre year due to a lack of explosiveness he once displayed so well in Baltimore.  Could it be because he was thrown into a different type of role?  He played the ‘Will’ linebacker spot with the Ravens, but had to make the transition a couple of steps over to the ‘Mike’ spot down in South Beach.

Well, he’ll have his chance once again, as he will be battling for the starting gig back at the Will spot after the New Orleans Saints acquired him in a trade that sent wide receiver Kenny Stills to Miami in exchange for Ellerbe and a 2015 third-round draft pick.

While it looks like veteran David Hawthorne and rookie Stephone Anthony will go head-to-head for the Mike role, in reality, it’s a three-way battle between Hawthorne, Anthony and Ellerbe for two starting jobs.  For now, if he can remain healthy, Ellerbe looks to be the favorite to land the weak side (Will).

There’s no telling what kind of sets the Saints plan to run a majority of the time, 3-4, 4-3, etc, but Ellerbe will certainly be in the mix for extended time on the field.

He missed 15 games a year ago, falling to a season-ending hip injury.  A tough setback to bounce back from, Dannell Ellerbe believes he’ll be just fine as long as he can stay healthy and play the weak side.

“It don’t matter if it’s a 3-4 or 4-3,” Ellerbe told ESPN.  “As long as I get to play the weak side, I’m good. I get to show my athleticism and do a couple of things, blitz, cover, instead of just playing in the middle and doing coverage. I really didn’t blitz the last time I played.”

Dannell Ellerbe looks to be a solid acquisition for Sean Payton and company.  He’s getting another shot after a year of rehab.  So, it’s not a matter of can he?  It’s a matter of will he find success back in his comfort zone at the ‘Will’ spot?  He’s proven to be capable in the past, and with a fresh start in a new city, he’ll look to renew his success in hopes of leading and turning the New Orleans Saints defense back into a praiseworthy unit after a down year for the club in 2014.

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