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Training camp preview: Outside linebacker

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff  July 18, 2012 07:00 AM

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The Patriots chose Dont'a Hightower with the 25th pick in the draft out of Alabama. (Associated Press)

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)

53-man prediction
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.

News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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