Comings: ILB Bobby Carpenter (FA Lions)
Goings: ILB Gary Guyton
Something To Prove: Brandon Spikes, Bobby Carpenter, Jermaine Cunningham, Jeff Tarpinian, Jerod Mayo.
Nothing To Lose: Niko Koutovides, Tracy White,
Summary: This is becoming a deep and strong group. Mayo is the leader and he's coming off a 2011 season that saw him injured and backsliding some from the All-Pro status he earned in 2010 when he led the NFL in tackles. The light seemed to go on for Brandon Spikes at the end of 2011 but he still needs to show he's got full buy-in to the program. Hightower, the rookie first-rounder, will challenge Spikes for time next to Mayo but Hightower also has versatility he showed at Alabama that may make him an interesting weapon. Fletcher is undersized to be an every-down backer but he's got promise as a coverage linebacker which is what Guyton was before he suddenly got stiff and slow. Carpenter has been trying to fulfill his potential as a former first-rounder and he may find a fit with New England. Tarpinian is an interesting young player who needed to bulk up, but he can hit and he gets to the ball. White and Koutouvides are almost entirely special teams guys. Cunningham has been a second-round bust to date. Rivera figures to be a long shot to make the roster.