The known is that Alex Anzalone can do the job, and that he can do it well.
The unknown is how much, or little, the New Orleans Saints' fourth-year linebacker will be available to do it.
That's not a secret for Saints fans who saw him play in 2018, the healthiest season on his NFL resume. It's a fact that in 16 games and seven starts and "Mike" and "Will" linebacker, Anzalone was a valuable, versatile defender: 59 tackles, two sacks, six quarterback hits, three tackles for loss, an interception, three forced fumbles and two passes defensed.
But it also is a fact that he didn't play a combined 16 games in his other two seasons. He didn't register half that many – four games as a rookie in 2017 (16 tackles, a sack and a pass defensed), and two games last year (seven tackles, a sack, a tackle for loss and a quarterback hit) – before being sidelined each year with a shoulder injury.
The hope is that surgery corrected the shoulder issue. If so, the presence of Anzalone significantly will strengthen New Orleans' linebacker unit.
"Obviously going through any injury, it's a little adversity at first and you've got to deal with it," Anzalone said. "I think that you just have to attack – I know it sounds cliché – but you have to attack every day as its own.
"And, you know, go through the process and at the end of the day you'll get back to being healthy and doing what you love to do, and I'm finally here. So I'm excited for camp and here we are."
The former third-round pick was prepared to participate in offseason work, but OTAs and minicamps were canceled due to the coronavirus. So he used the time to sharpen and prepare.
"I think I was ready to get back into it," he said. "I guess that goes for everyone, the more time we all had to lay low and focus on the little things that we want to get better (at) personally. Whether that be injury, technique, anything like that, that was an opportunity to get better in those aspects. But yeah, I think I was ready to get after it in OTAs and I was excited, but life moves on."
Moving on for Anzalone partially means staying on the field and adding to the repertoire that he already has unveiled. He has shown the skill to be an every-down player.
"I do think I have a lot more in my game that I haven't shown," he said. "I think I was starting to hit my stride in training camp last year but you know, I think there's a lot more I can show on film and show the league what I'm capable of."