BOCA RATON, Fla. — There has been much debate and a handful of theories thrown out over the last few weeks about how the defense would look with the addition of several new faces.
On Wednesday morning, coach Sean Payton provided some clues about how things might come together.
While things could change with the addition of new players acquired either free agency or the draft, or someone climbing the depth chart during training camp, the current vision is to have James Laurinaitis play middle linebacker.
That would mean Stephone Anthony would move to strongside linebacker, and Dannell Ellerbe will remain at weakside linebacker.
Payton said the team wanted a veteran player at middle linebacker to direct the defense.
“One of the things we felt we needed was someone with his experience that can help on game day with the overall understanding of what we’re doing and what they’re doing,” Payton said.
He continued: “That’s a lot on the plate of a rookie, first-year player getting the signals, making the calls, all of that. I think that’s one of the things obviously Laurinaitis is very comfortable at.”
Payton said if the team decides to move forward with Anthony at strongside linebacker, it will have to determine if he plays off the ball or on the ball.
“We got to be mindful and flexible enough to adapt what we’re doing defensively or offensively with the signing of a player,” Payton said.
With the changes at linebacker, Payton said the team sees Hau’oli Kikaha, who played strongside linebacker last season, having a role as a pass rusher in subpackages. However, he could also have a bigger role.
“It’s not out of the realm to think he can’t play the Jack position, that weakside end position,” Payton said. “That’s what he played in college and get him more snaps and more snaps moving forward. I know he’s comfortable doing that, and it’s one of his strengths.”
Cam Jordan played the weakside end position last season following the departure of Junior Galette. It stands to reason that he would move back to the strongside if Kikaha claims that role.