Sam (Strong Side): Stephone Anthony, Nathan Stupar
Mike (Middle): James Laurinaitis, Michael Mauti
Will (Weak Side): Dannell Ellerbe, Craig Robertson
I had plenty of things to say about the linebacker group in my positional preview on Thursday. The corps looks to be led by James Laurinaitis in the middle, who looks to quarterback the Saints defense into a respectable unit. Laurinaitis is student of the game, and brings sure tackling and great awareness to the table. Behind him is likely Michael Mauti, who is a good reserve player that excels at special teams.
Moving over to the strong side, Stephone Anthony will be able to compliment the Saints by focusing solely on run-stopping and blitzing. After racking up 111 total tackles last season and becoming the first player in NFL history to return a blocked kick for a 2-point conversion, Anthony will lean heavily upon the tutelage of Laurinaitis to grow.
The weak side spot is up in the air at this point, as Dannell Ellerbe only appeared in six games for the New Orleans Saints last season. After some setbacks at OTAs and minicamp, Ellerbe vowed to be 100 percent for the start of training camp. After all, his paycheck is directly tied to his field presence. The back up plan is Craig Robertson, who joined the team via free agency. Look for him to get some serious looks if Ellerbe can’t stay healthy.