Grasping at Straws: Pace's Suspension Makes Thomas More Useful?

It's tough to find much silver lining in the suspension of Calvin Pace. It exposes a primary weakness on the roster, depth. This team doesn't have much of it, particularly at outside linebacker. As things stand now, Bryan Thomas will probably be one of the starters. The other will come from either an undrafted free agent Marques Murrell or Jamaal Westerman or the unproven Vernon Gholston. Yikes.

If there's one silver lining, it could be putting Thomas in a more natural position. He might shift to the strong side. The two outside linebacker positions in the 3-4 are not identical. The weak side linebacker needs to be very athletic. His primary job is to serve as the edge rusher. The strong side player has to fight through traffic to defend the run. Getting after the quarterback is also part of the duty, but he needs to be much more physical than the other player. If Thomas does one thing well, it is hold the point of attack and play the run.

This is really just grasping at straws. Thomas saw plenty of strong side action in 2007 before Pace was around and did little. His issues with rushing the passer and in coverage are still there. He just might be a bit more effective. The real issue is Westerman, Gholston, and Murrell are unlikely to provide an improvement over Pace in tandem with Thomas.

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