He had his right hand on the ground and was peering left toward the football before exploding out of his stance and shooting himself like a missile toward the quarterback.
For Patriots linebacker Rosevelt Colvin, it was the routine act of rushing the passer, something he'd made a name for himself doing over his nine-year NFL career.
But this time, Sunday night against the Eagles, the quarterback wasn't sacked. Colvin was.
Colvin sustained a foot injury on the play, one serious enough to end his season. The Patriots placed him on injured reserve yesterday and signed veteran Chad Brown, who had been with the team in training camp and for four regular-season games.
Colvin's injury figures to have a significant trickle-down effect on the linebacking corps.
At outside linebacker in the 3-4 alignment opposite Mike Vrabel, Colvin was responsible for rushing the passer and setting a sturdy edge to limit running plays from getting to the outside. After he was hurt, the Patriots moved Adalius Thomas from inside to outside linebacker, and inserted Junior Seau next to Tedy Bruschi inside.
Now the Patriots have issues to consider.
Seau, 38, and Bruschi, 34, essentially had been splitting time, with Bruschi playing on early downs and Seau coming on in passing situations. Will they now assume full-time roles?
Thomas primarily played inside linebacker on early downs through the first eight games of the season before recently expanding his duties to include work on the outside. Should he make a permanent switch to the outside?
Among the players who could see increased playing time are the newly signed Brown, second-year player Pierre Woods (outside linebacker), and third-year player Eric Alexander (inside linebacker).
As a 15-year veteran, Brown has the most experience of the group and could back up at all four linebacker spots. The 6-foot-5-inch, 250-pound Woods, an undrafted free agent out of Michigan who was a surprise performer in 2006 training camp, has played sparingly in the base defense but is a solid special teams performer. Alexander (6-2, 240) has one career start, in last year's AFC Championship game against the Colts, and is also a core special teams player.
The Patriots could play a 4-3 defense more regularly, taking one linebacker off the field and adding a defensive lineman (Jarvis Green).
Colvin, 30, is the first opening-day defensive starter to be placed on injured reserve this season. In 11 games, 10 of which were starts, he was credited by coaches with 27 tackles, and his four sacks tied for second on the club. He also intercepted one pass, forced two fumbles, and recovered two fumbles.
An outside linebacker on early downs, he would often stay on the field and play a defensive end-type role on third down. That's when he sustained the injury.
On a third-and-10 play late in the third quarter, the 6-3, 250-pound Colvin came out of his stance and tried to speed past left tackle William Thomas. He lunged toward Eagles quarterback A.J. Feeley as the 6-7, 335-pound Thomas pushed him, and his left foot dragged underneath him.
When medical personnel tended to Colvin on the field, they held his arm, creating the impression that might have been the area of the injury. But it might have been that Colvin was being helped to maintain his balance.
It marked the second time Colvin has sustained a serious injury against the Eagles. In 2003, his first year with the Patriots, Colvin sustained a season-ending hip injury in the second game, at Philadelphia.
Colvin is signed through 2008, although he carries a high salary-cap charge next season at $7.63 million, which means his return isn't a guarantee. That currently projects to be the second-highest cap figure on the team, behind quarterback Tom Brady, and it's possible the Patriots will approach him about restructuring, similar to Willie McGinest's situation in 2005.
Mike Reiss can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.