Linebackers coach Brian Jean-Mary said he's building enough depth at the position that he's comfortable with five or six guys in the mix at this point.
Preston Brown has become a leader and currently would be the starting linebacker at the Mike (middle) position. At 6-feet, 260-pounds, Preston Brown is athletic enough and has the size to be a standout at that position and Jean-Mary said he's "getting more comfortable and looking like a natural now."
Senior Daniel Brown is expected to start at the weakside spot, while true freshman Keith Brown had lined up at the Mike during open practices but appears to have been moved to the Sam position.
Jean-Mary said junior George Durant and true freshman James Burgess have also been running some with the first-team defense.
"It's a healthy competition," Jean-Mary said. "Those guys (Preston Brown, Daniel Brown and Keith Brown) started off at starters and they're trying to hold other guys off. It's fun to see all of those guys compete."
Another true freshman – Nick Dawson – could see playing time, while Deiontrez Mount and Lorenzo Mauldin are both "hybrid" guys who could see playing time at linebacker and also at defensive end.
We have more depth here than we have had the last two years," Jean-Mary said. "The last two years, if we lost one or two players it was strike up the band because we didn't know who was going to be in there.
"But we're starting to build up depth and it's quality depth."
Preston Brown, junior
Brown tied for the second-most tackles on the team last season with 84 but now has moved into the middle and is the leader of the defense.
He's in great shape, the coaching staff loves how he's been taking care of business during the preseason and could really be primed for a huge season.
Jean-Mary said he has seen a change on Brown's attitude and feels like the player "really wants to show he can be a dominant player."
In the open practices, Brown was still playing mostly the Sam linebacker position but his growth in two weeks has him now square in the middle.
Deiontrez Mount, sophomore
Defensive coordinator Vance Bedford said Mount will be used "up, down and all around," on the field this season.
Mount is called a "hybrid" guy because he'll be playing some at linebacker and some at defensive end – especially on pass rushing.
The 6-foot-5, 245-pound Mount played in nine games as a true freshman and started five, collecting 10 tackles and two tackles for a loss.
Mount is one of those physically-impressive looking kids who won't play every down but when he comes into the game you can bet he will be productive.
*Yes, the Cardinals could be all Brown at linebacker. At this point, Preston Brown, Daniel Brown and Keith Brown will light up the lineup.
Daniel Brown had 39 tackles, while Mount finished with 10 last season as the only guys in the mix for playing time with double-digit tackles.
*Jean-Mary lauded Keith Brown and Burgess as true freshmen who will be able to play because they enrolled in January, went through spring practice and "now have and understanding of the level of intensity that is needed."
*Daniel Brown is the lone senior in the mix for playing time at the position, meaning the linebacker slots look bright for the future.
*Reserve linebacker Tyon Dixon of Cincinnati under went surgery on his foot last week and will be sidelined for an undetermined amount of time.
COMING UP NEXT
*Watch later today for a feature on position leader Preston Brown and a story on Deiontrez Mount and what he can do as a hybrid.
*The position series will continue tomorrow with the offensive line.