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Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Seau signing could mean more 3-4 for Pats

By Mike Reiss

ANALYSIS

With the signing of linebacker Junior Seau becoming official Wednesday, and the New England Patriots releasing defensive lineman Terdell Sands to make room on the roster, the defense is now better equipped to run more 3-4 alignments.

Those X's and O's, along with Seau's leadership and intangibles, seem to be the primary reasons to make the move now.

Seau should be the third inside linebacker behind Jerod Mayo and Gary Guyton in the base 3-4, providing important depth the team did not have otherwise. He also could factor into a sub package, easing some of the load on Guyton, who has played all but one snap this season.

The Patriots have been limited in what they can do schemewise because of their shortage at linebacker. They opened the season in a 3-4 alignment, but since Mayo sprained his MCL in the season opener, they've played just three snaps in the 3-4, instead favoring a 4-3.

Because of that shift to the 4-3, linebacker Adalius Thomas has not been utilized as much as a rusher, as the linebackers haven't pressured unless a blitz has been called.

A move to the 3-4 should create more opportunities for Thomas to be disruptive, while also putting Pierre Woods back to his more natural spot of 3-4 outside linebacker.