NFL training camp: OLB position battle between John Abraham and Lorenzo Alexander

Christian Petersen

Bruce Arians likes what both can do to rush the passer.

While the main talk after morning walkthrough on Friday was the offensive line, another potential position battle revealed itself, and one that was going to be one anyway -- at outside linebacker. Instead of being between Lorenzo Alexander and O'Brien Schofield, it will be between Alexander and newly signed John Abraham, who has been one of the best pass rushers in the game.

Head coach Bruce Arians was asked how Abraham will be used. The idea of a situational pass rusher has been thrown around. The one thing that Arians made sure was that he would get Abraham on the field "the first thing I think they're going to pass."

However, he did not say that Abraham will just be used as a nickel guy.

"He can be an every down player, he said. "We will see how it goes. I really like Lorenzo Alexander in that spot also, so we've got two quality veterans.

"What it's really done is bolster our nickel package. When we want to get after the quarterback, we've got four to five capable pass rushers -- now one withe an elite resume and we don't have to wonder what we have. We know what we have -- a guy that's had 9.5 to 10.5 sacks the last four-five years."

As for Alexander, who has not been a full time starter on defense, Arians believed he would be effective as well.

"He's had a great pass rush wherever he's got his opportunity in Washington as an outside backer or in their rover package," he said. "Exactly what we want him to do we've seen him on tape extremely effective. I like his skill set. I love what he brings to the table in a motor and his leadership role. John (Abraham), with him coming in, it might allow us to play him (Alexander) more on special teams, where he is a dynamic player."

They will play things out to see who will start and who will get rotated in. Based on recent history (Abraham consistently has played about 70 percent of the defensive snaps on his teams), Abraham would probably start. But it sounds like both Abraham and Alexander will get to play, and by reducing the projected snaps of Alexander, it allows him to do what the entire league knows he is great at -- excelling at special teams.

Either way, it seems that the staff likes both guys and that both will be able to get some outside pressure, something that has been missing for some time.

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