Training Camp Preview: Defensive Line
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters -- DT Vince Wilfork, DT Kyle Love, DE Brandon Deaderick, DE Chandler Jones. Backups -- Jonathan Fanene, DE Jake Bequette, Ron Brace, Marcus Forston, DE Justin Francis, Marcus Harrison, DE Aaron Lavarias, Myron Pryor, DE Alex Silvestro, Gerard Warren. Beyond the All-Pro Wilfork, anointing starters and starting lineups along the New England defensive front is almost pointless. Coach Bill Belichick likes to be multiple and versatile up front. That means playing 3-4, 4-3 and plenty of sub looks against today's passing attacks. Wilfork is the only constant on the line, thanks to his immense talent and versatility. He could line up anywhere from nose tackle to defensive end and anywhere in between depending on the scheme. Love is a former undrafted player who's carved out a nice role for himself as a stout interior player. Deaderick is former seventh-round pick from Alabama who is a solid, stout player at end. Jones -- this year's top pick -- could be the key to the front. If he lives up to his potential and athleticism early in his career, it will make the entire front better. He can play down at end or up as a linebacker, but will likely be on New England's right defensive front edge in most looks. Fanene has been a solid career backup with the Bengals whose versatility will replace the role formerly held by the now retired Mike Wright. Fanene's greatest impact will come as an interior sub rusher. Bequette is another potential impact rookie pass rusher, while Brace is a former second-round pick fighting for his roster life in his fourth season. Warren has been a suitable veteran presence for the last two seasons, but is also in a fight for a job. Pryor has some versatility but has battled injuries. Francis has gotten a lot of reps so far this offseason and could be a dark horse to make the roster as an undrafted player out of Rutgers. But the bulk of the success of the front could depend on the veteran Pro Bowler Wilfork and the hyped newcomer Jones.
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