I'm feeling like Jon Snow right now as the New England Patriots keep throwing curveballs in training camp.
When the Patriots signed Shea McClellin in free agency, we thought he would serve as a back-up for Dont'a Hightower and Jamie Collins at linebacker. Reports have surfaced that McClellin has been working with the edge defenders- which led me to write an article about a possible defensive wrinkle in the works.
The basic idea is that Rob Ninkovich and Shea McClellin are both ideal 3-4 outside linebackers and could be perfect hybrid edge defenders in a Bill Belichick defense.
Well, that article might already be outdated since Ninkovich might not be an edge defender anymore, according to NESN's Doug Kyed.
Rob Ninkovich has been playing middle linebacker during minicamp. He says he's embracing the challenge of learning a new position.— Doug Kyed (@DougKyed) June 8, 2016
So are we to believe that Ninkovich is now the 3rd linebacker behind Hightower and Collins? Is Ninkovich taking over for the retired Jerod Mayo? Is Ninkovich behind Jonathan Freeny (please, no)? Are McClellin and Ninkovich playing two completely different positions? Is this just a minicamp testto improve his versatility?
Earlier this week, ESPN and Pro Football Focus noted that Ninkovich was one of the Patriots' weakest starters in 2015, so perhaps the Patriots coaching staff agrees. The Herald's Jeff Howe notes that Ninkovich looks "slimmed down." Ninkovich is a team captain and will do anything to help out.
But this just raises another question of what the heck are the Patriots doing on defense?
I don't mean that in a good or bad way. I just honestly have no idea. Ninkovich moving to middle linebacker was probably at the very bottom of my Patriots Preseason Projections list. More to follow.