Greg A. Bedard provides a status report on the Patriots’ defensive position groups heading into the start of training camp on July 26.
Position: Outside linebacker
Current number of players: 5
Four-year average at cut to 53 players: 3.8
Last season at 53: 4
Locks (2): Jerod Mayo, Bobby Carpenter
Near locks (0)
Battling (3): Niko Koutouvides, Jeff Tarpinian, Tracy White
Long shots (0)
On the team (3): Jerod Mayo, Bobby Carpenter, Jeff Tarpinian
Cut (2): Niko Koutouvides, Tracy White
Parting thought: Depending on the injury situation, look for this to be a spot where the Patriots try to steal a roster spot for either the line or the secondary. Hightower’s inside/outside versatility allows for that. If a starter goes down anywhere among the linebackers – provided he doesn’t win the strong-side job outright (we think he will) – Hightower will get the call. The third spot comes down to whoever is the better special teams player between White, Tarpinian and Koutouvides. That has been White in the past, but that has to come to an end at some point.