Losing outside linebacker Jonathan Casillas to a season-ending foot injury was certainly a blow to the New Orleans Saints' defense. The second-year pro had been a standout playmaker this summer, earning a starting job on the weak side.
But it should be a smooth transition to "Plan B" for the Saints - or more precisely, a smooth transition back to "Plan A."
Third-year pro Jo-Lonn Dunbar began the summer as the Saints' starting strong-side linebacker, where he will likely return for Thursday night's season opener against the Minnesota Vikings. Veteran starter Scott Shanle will likely switch back to his natural position on the weak side.
"I've been here for three years and I've played all three linebacker positions," said Dunbar, who has started five games as an injury replacement in his young career and said he is "absolutely" comfortable with jumping back in to the starting lineup. "I'm kind of one of those guys, I'm ready to come in at any position at any moment."
Shanle spoke highly of Dunbar on Sunday, saying he has "a lot of faith and trust" in the former undrafted free agent from Boston College. Shanle also praised the versatility of the Saints' linebacking corps in general, saying, "The good thing about our room is that all of our linebackers can play either side."