JOHNNY CRUZVISALIA, CA
It was mentioned that DeMarcus Lawrence, Greg Hardy, Tyrone Crawford and Randy Gregory might start in the nickel. If Marinelli believes in stopping the run on the way to the QB, why wouldn't this be the starters the majority of the time anyway? Why not get the best players on the field?
Bryan: I understand your question and it is a fair one, but I am more comfortable with Hardy playing on that edge, winning those one-on-one battles, where inside he is going to have to deal with so many double-teams. He is an elite rusher and playing him inside down after down just seems like you would take him out of that role. Using him as a change up inside and moving him around gives him a better chance at getting those one-on-one situations.
David: For the time being at least, I think you only want some of those guys on the field during pass rush situations. Gregory looks incredibly talented, but I'm not sure he's going to be physically ready to be an every-down player by September – especially when it comes to the run game. Rod Marinelli's goal is to have eight-to-10 guys he feels comfortable rotating, and it certainly looks like he's got that.
STERLING TICEAHKIEWALTERS , OK
Of the young group that has come in to try and sure up a roster spot at LB, which one has the best chance to slide into a starting role and be effective, if injuries make it a must-happen situation? I know we have Brinkley to back up McClain, but after that I don't see who is the first to step in at the other linebacker spots.
Bryan: Keith Rivers is a veteran that has been getting a ton of work with the first defense. Kyle Wilber been getting plenty of work, too. Keep an eye on this Damien Wilson who has played a couple of different spots as well. They are trying to get him ready for something.
David:Rivers reminds me a lot of Justin Durant, in that he's a veteran guy who is capable of playing basically any role necessary. I also think Anthony Hitchens is going to be the primary backup on the weak side, and he might even wind up starting on the strong side. Hitchens, Rivers and Kyle Wilber are the guys to watch at Sam.