Question: What are Mike Nolan's substitution preferences for the defensive linemen and linebackers? I have been thinking about what numbers Nolan might keep for each position, and besides depth, the sub rotation would give me a greater insight into whether having six or seven linemen is plausible.
Jeff, Asheville, N.C.
Answer: I've been thinking about the same thing, Jeff, but haven't come to any solid conclusions. Going off of spring practices, Isaac Sopoaga was the backup nose tackle, Ray McDonald was the backup right end and Ronald Fields was the backup left end. (But remember that Sam Rayburn came in late and that Joe Cohen is a rookie). At linebacker, the top subs were Patrick Willis at middle (Mike) linebacker while Parys Haralson, Hannibal Navies and Roderick Green were the first ones in at outside linebacker. I'd look for the rookies (Cohen, Willis and Jay Moore) to start making a bigger impact during training camp.
- Matt Barrows