With some down time before training camp, we're inspecting the Patriots roster position by position. Today, an examination of the linebackers.
Kyle Van Noy, Ja'Whaun Bentley, Dont'a Hightower, Jamie Collins
Elandon Roberts, Christian Sam, Brandon King
Shilique Calhoun, Calvin Munson, Terez Hall (rookie)
Van Noy was arguably the most valuable player for New England during last season's playoffs. He's emerged as a leader and playmaker on this defense. Hightower's best days lately seem to come when the games matter most, but he's still an integral component to this system, so, I don't see him going anywhere. The young Bentley is emerging as another solid player. It would have been interesting to see just how much he could have developed last season had he not been injured so early on.
Collins, meantime, looked good during the spring and might add another intriguing element to this defense in his second go-round with the Patriots. Roberts runs hot and cold on the field and thus is no lock to make the team again. Sam was one of many injured 2018 rookies who never had a real chance to contribute. He's a virtual unknown commodity at this point.
While King is listed on the roster as a linebacker, he never plays the position and is on the team strictly to play special teams. He'll likely continue to do so this season, but his spot is by no means guaranteed. Newcomer Calhoun is a veteran journeyman, while Munson spent much of 2018 on the practice squad here. The rookie Hall could challenge for a special teams role if he doesn't find regular work on defense.