07-22-2006, 01:46 PM #1
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Pasquarelli: Overlooked discussion-worthy camp battles
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Napoleon Harris versus Dontarrious Thomas (Minnesota Vikings, middle linebacker): The Vikings have made some impressive moves in the offseason, but for first-year defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin to be able to effectively implement the Cover 2 scheme he brought with him from Tampa Bay, someone is going to have to seize the middle linebacker spot. The position is critical in the Cover 2 because it demands an active and athletic defender who can turn and run, and take responsibility for the deep middle zone. There aren't a lot of middle linebackers who can get 18-20 yards down field, but that's what Tomlin was accustomed to during his five seasons with the Bucs, and that is what he expects. Thomas is arguably the more athletic of the two and that could be to his advantage. Harris, the veteran acquired from Oakland in the Randy Moss trade, is more a traditional middle linebacker. Neither has demonstrated big-play skills in his career, combining for no interceptions and just five takeaways. Don't rule out the possibility that E.J. Henderson, a former starter in the middle, might yet get into the fray, especially if Minnesota coaches are convinced that first-round choice Chad Greenway is ready to start at the weakside linebacker spot.
PUT IN JACKSON!
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