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Newz Forum: FOOTBALL: Klecko weighing switch to new position

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posted on Jun, 12 2004 @ 07:13 PM
FOXBORO, Mass. (AP) - Defensive tackle Dan Klecko is dropping pounds in hopes of moving up the New England Patriots' depth chart in a different position. Klecko has dropped at least 13 pounds since last season as the coaching staff toys with the idea of using him at inside linebacker.

Listed at 5-foot-11, 283 pounds as a rookie last year, Klecko was smaller than a lot of defensive lineman, but bigger than most linebackers. Last year, he saw some playing time at nose tackle, but was also inserted at defensive tackle in a 4-3 alignment, middle linebacker in a 4-3, outside linebacker in a 3-4 and blocking fullback on offense.

Head coach Bill Belichick and defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel have shifted Klecko to inside linebacker for the rest of the Patriots' two minicamps to try to find the high energy player a more regular slot.

The experiment is expected to continue when training camp begins July 29.

Klecko's teammate Tedy Bruschi made a similar move after college. The veteran linebacker held the NCAA sack record at Arizona as a pass-rushing defensive end, and has made the move to inside linebacker in increments over his nine-year career. The biggest difference, Bruschi said, is how a player sees the field as a linebacker.

"You're seeing it totally different," said Bruschi, who has been tutoring Klecko in the non-contact practices. "When you're down in the three-point stance, you see two guys, maybe three. But a linebacker is standing up, and you've got to see the whole thing. You've got to recognize formations and make adjustments for one, then you've got to recognize entirely different blocking schemes in terms of runs and passes."

So far, Klecko is getting good reviews for his efforts.

"Dan's a smart guy, he's worked hard and he's really doing a nice job of making the transition," Belichick said. "But when the pads come on, everything starts happening a little faster and the contact comes, and that's always been one of Dan's strengths. He's the kind of player who looks better in contact."

"He's a bright kid, and that's the first thing you've got to have," Bruschi said. "He moves pretty well. You've got to have that, and you've got to have intelligence, which I think he has, and basic football instincts, which I think he has also."

"It's a challenge," Klecko said. "It'll be tough, and it will take time, but I'll get it."

The minicamp ended with Saturday morning's practice. The players will meet again Sunday night at the Brookline home of team owner Robert Kraft to receive their Super Bowl XXXVIII championship rings.

"The rings are symbolic of what the team accomplished, and that's what we all play for," Belichick said. "It's a prize that you work hard to get so it will be exciting to see it and have it. But at the same time, that will be a short window to enjoy it, because we'll have the '04 season upon us."

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