Anderson could prove to be Pats utility linebacker

Anderson could prove to be Pats utility linebacker
July 28, 2014, 12:30 pm
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FOXBORO – So much has been said this offseason about the Patriots top three linebackers – Jerod Mayo, Donta Hightower and Jamie Collins – that we rarely get around to talking about a key aspect of the LBs…who’s No. 4?
 
Brandon Spikes was the designated heavy against the run for this defense. Dane Fletcher was the coverage linebacker. They are gone to Buffalo and Tampa, respectively.
 
The Patriots have needs to fill. One of them could be occupied by James Anderson, a former Bear who came to New England in June.
 
The 6-2, 235-pounder made 102 tackles for Chicago last year but was miscast a bit because of injuries. He’s better equipped to chase and cover than plug and wrap.
 
But at least he can do a little of both which makes him a good utility guy to have on the roster.
 
“I would describe myself as a linebacker,” said Anderson, 30. “I’ve been blessed with the ability to run, but I don’t think that distinguishes me as a (cover linebacker or a run-stopping linebacker).”
 
Mayo probably isn’t coming off the field very much this season. Hightower is definitely a two-down linebacker whose third-down usage could be as a pass-rusher. Collins, one supposes, is another three-down backer.
 
So that puts Anderson in that coverage linebacker role the Patriots will use against crossers, tight ends and flat-going wideouts.
 
There is some complexity, he acknowledged.  
 
“For me, being the new guy, it’s a matter of learning what to do,” Anderson admitted. “But I can turn to anybody, even guys like (second-year man) Steve (Beauharnais) or some of the other guys, Jerod, Jamie, anybody and they’ll help right away.”
 
The Bears were mostly a 4-3 team, Anderson said. In New England, the schemes are intricate. It’s got Anderson, a third-round pick back in 2006, rejuvenated.  
 
“You have to be intrigued by a team that’s won multiple championships. The way they do things, they way they approach the game, I’m excited to be a part of it.”