Anderson fine with 'coverage linebacker' label

Anderson fine with 'coverage linebacker' label
June 12, 2014, 6:45 pm
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FOXBORO -- What more did he have to do? James Anderson recorded 102 tackles last season with the Bears, and he had proven he still had the legs to cover in a league where the passing game is king.

Yet June 1 came and went, and the 30-year-old free agent was still unsigned.

"I was anxious," he said. "You see free agency happen, you see guys getting signed. I'm used to working out with a team. I knew sooner or later I would know I was going to be playing or I wasn't."

Anderson had worked out with the Patriots on May 25 and eventually got the call he'd been waiting for, signing officially on June 4. Now the 6-foot-2, 235-pound eight-year veteran is working out with the team during its OTAs, trying to grasp a new system.

"I see myself fitting in kind of where they tell me to go," he said. "Everything is still new. I'm still learniing the defense. Still learning from the guys around me. Trying to work in as much as I can. When the season comes, wherever they tell me that's where you are, I'll give everything I have."

Given his skill set, the former third-round pick of the Carolina Panthers could end up as a reserve linebacker who excels in coverage as a staple in nickel or dime packages. In his first meeting with New England media members on Thursday, Anderson seemed to convey that he understood his ability to play in the passing game is his meal ticket.

"As you know, looking at my size, I'm a little bit smaller than the rest of the guys around here," he said. "To make up for that I've got to be fast and be able to cover. That's a strength."

Anderson is working to fit in with a relatively young linebacking corps. Jerod Mayo (28 years old), Dont'a Hightower (24) and Jamie Collins (24) figure to be the regulars this season. Though Anderson is older than all of them, he's the one who feels like the guy fresh out of college.

"I feel like a rookie almost," he said. "It's a totally different defense than I've ever played. Just learning the techniques and how they want things done. Got to put in a little time in the playbook."