While many teams held their offensive starters out during the first week of the preseason, most played their defensive starters for at least one series. It provided an earlier than expected look at the base and subpackage depth charts and will give us something to work from in future weeks. Lots of notes from this week's preseason games and an updated every-down linebacker projection to follow.
CAMP NEWS AND NOTES
***The Falcons gave the veterans the first look at linebacker in the first preseason game. However, it wasn't the alignment you'd expect. There were rumors that Paul Worrilow was seeing more snaps at weak-side linebacker early in camp, but it was still surprising to see Worrilow there on the first preseason snap while Sean Weatherspoon played the middle. Weatherspoon looked better than he has in some time, but if he's Deion Jones' primary competition at middle linebacker it won't be long until Jones hits the top of the depth chart. Jones and fellow rookie DeVondre Campbell played with the second team. Jones was indecisive at times, but Jones was quicker and played fast enough to show off his ability to be physical at the point of attack. It may not happen in Week 1, but Jones and Campbell are the every-down future in Atlanta.
***I was surprised to see Brandon Graham and Connor Barwin get the opening defensive snap for Philadelphia, but this is going to be a three-man rotation. Marcus Smith isn't likely to work his way into the mix. All three players are going to get looks on the open end and it looks like they'll all get about 45-50 snaps a game while sitting out one of three series each. I still like Vinny Curry over Graham, with Barwin a half tier back of both. And Fletcher Cox is going to be dominant as an every-down three technique. Unfortunately, there's too much talent in this front seven. Between the defensive line studs and Jordan Hicks and Mychal Kendricks, there will be lots of weekly variance. Thankfully, the highs will be good enough to tolerate the spread of numbers.
***My spidey senses are tingling on DeAndre Levy. Still on NFI without an explanation, Levy was defensive in his responses in the locker room early this week when asked if his current absence is due to a knee injury that's been rumored. Levy wouldn't say more, only noting that he doesn't feel last year's hip surgery will limit him. Now nearly three weeks into camp practices, the Lions are going to have difficulty continuing to minimize Levy's absence. Tahir Whitehead and Josh Bynes are taking advantage of the every-down opportunity right now.