With the New Orleans Saints switching to a 3-4 defense, some players are expected to step up and flourish in the new defense. One of the players the Saints have high hopes for is linebacker David Hawthorne. Hawthorne would be playing one of the inside linebacker positions, most likely on the weak side while Curtis Lofton will occupy the strong side. However, Hawthorne’s starting spot could be in jeopardy with the strong play of a Saints’ veteran.
Jonathan Vilma impressed during OTA’s earlier in the offseason as the strong side inside linebacker. Vilma could be the starting inside linebacker alongside Lofton and Hawthorne could very well be playing behind Vilma and Lofton. It was first thought that Vilma would struggle in the new 3-4 defense but now it seems that he could be one of the starters, especially considering how well he and Lofton have been playing together.
Hawthorne will need to have a very strong training camp if he wants to beat out Vilma and earn a starting spot. Furthermore, Hawthorne will need to stay healthy in order to have a chance to win over a starting spot. Last season, Hawthorne did suffer a hamstring injury in week three and only finished with 37 tackles in 11 games.
Hawthorne will be looking to bounce back next season after a mediocre 2012 campaign. Hawthorne will certainly be a player to watch closely because he does have the potential to produce a lot more for the Saints. However, Hawthorne will need to earn some playing time and that will all start with a good training camp.