New England Patriots linebacker Elandon Roberts may be able to contribute when the team plays the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday Night Football.
“Patriots linebacker Elandon Roberts, who left the game with an ankle injury, seems to be OK afterward,” wrote NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. “Short week may make it challenging, though.”
Roberts is 23 years old. He was pressed into his role because the Patriots, already struggling to find any answers on defense, are pretty beat up at the linebacker position.
“Roberts was injured after he appeared to get pancaked on one of [Carolina Panthers quarterback] Cam Newton’s scrambles,” WEEI’s Ty Anderson noted after the game. “With David Harris and Harvey Langi both inactive, and with defensive leader Dont’a Hightower playing a somewhat limited role throughout the afternoon, Roberts’ injury put Marquis Flowers back into the linebacking mix, who finished the day with one tackle.”
Hightower is working his way back in. He’s been out since he was injured in the season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs, so even a limited role was a step in the right direction.
Even so, the report on Roberts is big for the Patriots because, though he’s not the answer yet, the team really likes the way he’s trending.
“He can direct other people — his teammates — based on what he sees but also just his communication and his understanding of our defense and how to utilize the tools that we have to try to take advantage of something that he sees,” coach Bill Belichick said, per Kevin Duffy of MassLive. “He’s more comfortable, just has more experience doing it. He’s improved in every area. It hasn’t just been one thing. He works extremely hard off the field in his preparation, plays hard on the field, practices hard, and has a good understanding of the defense and does a good job communicating with his teammates from that linebacker position, which, that’s part of the job, too. But you need to have some experience and some confidence to exert that. And I’d say he’s definitely gained that in the last year.”
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