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Friday, November 09, 2007

Look out for Vrabel



Settled into position, LB is better than ever

By Mike Reiss

November 7, 2007


FOXBOROUGH - Safety Rodney Harrison didn't know much about linebacker Mike Vrabel before signing with the Patriots five seasons ago, but he's come to appreciate playing alongside him.

"He's the consummate pro, probably the smartest football player I've ever been around," Harrison said. "People underestimate him. I just don't think he gets the credit he deserves."

While credit might sometimes escape Vrabel, opposing quarterbacks have not.
At a time when some might believe he'd be slowing down, Vrabel, now in his 11th season, is enjoying a career year. His 8 1/2 sacks already have him one shy of his career high, and they lead all NFL linebackers this season.

The 32-year-old Vrabel also has been a force playing the run as an outside linebacker in the Patriots' 3-4 defense. Coaches have credited him with 47 tackles, third-most on the team, and even when he hasn't made stops, he's been strong in securing the edge and forcing running plays back inside, a crucial part of the job.

"He's such an integral part of our defense, and he's a leader," Harrison said. "I look up to a guy like that."

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