Below is an overview of the New Orleans Saints linebacker corps heading into training camp. The group is led by MLB Jonathan Vilma, who was selected to his first Pro Bowl as a Saint. Scott Shanle, who flanks the weakside is the longest-tenured member of the group. A combination of veterans and younger players will compete for the starting spot at the strongside position.
LINEBACKERS (9) - Returners: Stanley Arnoux, Jonathan Casillas, Jo-Lonn Dunbar, Troy Evans, Marvin Mitchell, Scott Shanle, Jonathan Vilma, Anthony Waters. Offseason veteran additions: Clint Ingram (FA). Departures from 2009: Scott Fujita, Mark Simoneau. WORTH NOTING: The New Orleans linebacker corps have excelled in both coverage and run support. Vilma, one of the club's defensive cornerstones, brings a combination of speed, instincts, experience and pursuit to the middle of the defense. In his second season with the Saints, the six-year veteran led the Saints in tackles for the second consecutive season with 130 stops and also added three interceptions as he was the club's first Pro Bowl selection at linebacker since 2000. Shanle has provided consistent play from the weakside spot since joining the club in 2006, as no Saint has had more stops than his 464 tackles during that period. Equally adept at blitzing, dropping into coverage and plugging against the run, Shanle enjoyed the finest season of his seven-year career in 2009 when he registered 106 stops, setting career-highs with two interceptions and two fumble recoveries. A combination of veterans and rookies will compete for the strongside spot vacated by Scott Fujita. Jo-Lonn Dunbar, a third-year veteran, has started five games in his first two seasons and has also added 28 special teams stops over this time. Evans, a special teams captain provides valuable depth and starting experience on defense. He's recorded 123 coverage stops in his career. Ingram, comes to New Orleans after starting for the past four seasons with Jacksonville, where he made 331 tackles and 5.5 sacks. Arnoux, a rugged, powerful defender who started in the middle for three years at Wake Forest in the middle is fully rehabilitated from a ruptured left Achilles tendon injury after being drafted and will enter the competition in his sophomore season. Mitchell, a seventh-round draft pick in 2007, has established himself as a valuable special teams contributor in his first three NFL seasons, setting career-highs with 24 tackles and 16 special teams stops in 2009. Waters, a third-round draft choice of the San Diego Chargers in 2007, will seek to contribute on both defense and special teams. Casillas saw action both on defense and special teams as an undrafted rookie in 2009.