Patriots coach Bill Belichick was a guest on Sirius XM NFL Radio on Tuesday, joining hosts Adam Schein and Randy Cross during their training camp visit. One of the topics that came up was the team's 21 defensive linemen and what that means when the 53-man roster is formed Sept. 3.
With so many linemen in camp and a focus on more four-man line play, Belichick was asked if that changes the dynamic in forming the team. Unlike past years, when the club has been heavier at linebacker, it looks like they'll be heavier along the d-line this year.
"Sure, absolutely. Yes, absolutely. We're going to have to figure out a way to manage our roster probably a little differently on the defensive side than we have in the past," Belichick responded. "That's always a challenge every year and there are always a few decisions as to whether you want to carry an extra receiver, a DB, or however it works out. In this case, I think, the linebacker/defensive line numbers will probably shift a little bit from what they've been in past years."
In 2010, for example, the Patriots were running a base 3-4 defense and they had eight defensive linemen and eight linebackers entering the season-opener.
EXTRA POINT: In ESPNBoston.com's first roster projections of 2011, two scenarios were presented where the team could keep 10 defensive linemen (which accounts for hybrid players like Jermaine Cunningham) and 5-6 linebackers.