Presented by

Mailbag: Dealing With Possible Suspensions? Rating Anthony Hitchens

While Irving's suspension (barring his appeal) wouldn't be crippling, which defensive lineman could this open up the door for the most?

Bryan: I keep going back to Damontre Moore. His ability to play both left and right end will help his chances, as well. I sound like a broken record but if he plays like he did in Seattle last season, he could help this team with his pass rush ability.

David:It all depends on how the coaches want to use their guys. DeMarcus Lawrence and Taco Charlton can both play left end, and we know Tyrone Crawford has experience there. If Irving does in fact get hit with a suspension, then I'd guess one of those guys will move across the line. I think that could be a big boost for Charles Tapper, who is a natural fit for the right side and could use the extra reps.

How would you rate Anthony Hitchens' overall play from his first year until last year?

Bryan: Hitchens is never going to "wow" you with his physical power. As a matter of fact, he is the total opposite of what you had with Rolando McClain. What was so surprising about Hitch's first season was how well he played while he was banged up. I will say that I like his chances to have a better upcoming season after gaining more experience as a starter last season. I promise that this time last season he was getting ready for more of a role as a nickel linebacker than he was as a starter. This year that's not the case – he's preparing to start and that will help his overall play.

David:I've always been so impressed with Hitchens' willingness to just go do it. He played all three positions as a rookie when Sean Lee got hurt. He started all 16 games last year and was the only other constant in the linebacker corps besides Lee. No, he's not a Pro Bowl-caliber player. Ideally, the hope is that Hitchens will be an insurance policy for Jaylon Smith this year. But if that's not the case and Smith can't go, I'm confident Hitchens can play capably in that spot.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.