SPARTANBURG, S.C. – One of the intriguing training camp battles is taking place at outside linebacker between Chase Blackburn – last year's starter – and A.J. Klein.
Klein, a fifth-round draft choice from Iowa State in 2013, is pushing for the starting job in his second season, and he knows he needs to show the coaching staff he's made significant strides.
"Mainly, right now I am just focusing on getting better," Klein said. "I have a lot to improve on from last year. Even from one day of practice I know I have a long way to go.
"I am going to keep on working to become the starter, but I am not going to hang my hat on that. At the end of the day, I am just working to make this team better."
As a rookie, Klein played in all 16 games and started two when Blackburn was sidelined with a foot injury. Klein finished with 24 tackles and two sacks and was particularly impressive as a starter in the Week 10 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.
But to become the full-time starter, Klein knows there are parts of his game he must address.
"(I need to continue) to understand the defense better. Need better pass drops. I have to be better in coverage if I want to make an impact," Klein said. "I made strides at the end of the season last year seeing more playing time. I'm feeling more comfortable making checks within the defense and in the system."