Injuries have sidelined Patriots linebacker Shawn Crable in each of his first two professional seasons, but that's about to change.
"Been a weird two years," Crable told the Boston Herald. "But this year's everything to me. As soon as we're allowed to get onto the field, I'm going to start working on my craft so when the season starts, it doesn't feel like I'm two years removed from playing football."
The 2008 third-round pick out of Michigan has registered zero snaps with New England, but now that he's finally healthy, Crable's size and athleticism could give the Patriots the strong pass-rusher they need next season.
Crable drew comparisons to Chargers linebacker Shaun Phillips before the Patriots drafted him two years ago. His 6-foot-5, 243-pound frame gives New England a big body in its linebacking corps, but what separates Crable is his speed and quickness on the outside.
The former Wolverine showed his talent at the 2008 NFL scouting combine. Crable managed 29 reps on the bench press, proving to scouts that he has the upper-body strength to play in the NFL.
The former Wolverine showed off his wheels as well, earning the top performance among linebackers in the 40-yard dash. Crable, a three-time letterman in track, ran a 10.7 second 100-yard dash in high school.
Of course, Crable must overcome the shin, leg and groin injuries that made him a regular on the Patriots' injured-reserve list. It's questionable whether Crable can recover and meet his lofty draft expectations, but the outside linebacker remains optimistic.
"I have no intentions to shy away from anything this year," Crable said. "I'm taking it very serious. I'm trying to get my body right and training hard and doing what they're asking me to do. And at the same time, keep my mind right, keep focused."
If Crable proves he's healthy, the Patriots and their fans will be rewarded with a pass-rushing outside linebacker who could become a staple in New England's defense.