The New Orleans Saints have rebuilt a defense over the last

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The New Orleans Saints have rebuilt a defense over the last

Messagede panxing18 » Jeu 10 Jan 2019 01:34

Four Saints Defenders That Could Emerge As Stars in 2018 previously ranked near the bottom of the league Youth Tyeler Davison Jersey , primarily with high draft choices and smart free agent spending. The result has been a faster and more aggressive defensive unit that pressures opposing offenses and creates turnovers. New Orleans ranked around the middle of the league in most defensive categories when it came to yards surrendered, but near the top of the NFL in sacks and interceptions. Cornerback Marshon Lattimore and defensive end Cam Jordan are already among the league's best players at their positions. Today, we have a look at four Saints defenders who look to be difference makers on a still improving unit. Marcus Williams, SPhoto by Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesWilliams is already considered an emerging star in many circles. The 42nd overall pick in the 2017 draft was one of four Saints voted to the NFL's All-Rookie Team, and gave New Orleans a ballhawking presence at safety that they'd lacked since the 2009 championship squad. His 4 interceptions were second on a Saints defense that ranked 3rd in the league in pick-offs. Despite Williams' slight build, he showed himself to be a solid tackler and run defender as well, finishing 3rd on the team in total tackles. One of the team's biggest offseason questions is how Williams will respond to the missed tackle on Minnesota's Stefon Diggs that led to the Vikings last second playoff win over New Orleans in January. It must not be forgotten how well Williams played in that game, and that it was his acrobatic interception that helped fuel a second half Saints comeback. He is an athletic, traditional center field type of safety who reads the opposing quarterback well and makes fast and aggressive breaks on the ball. Williams played at a Pro Bowl level at times last season, and has worked out with extra motivation this offseason, looking to build on the momentum of a successful rookie year. David Onyemata, DTPhoto by Chris Graythen/Getty ImagesOnyemata was arguably the most disruptive New Orleans lineman not named Cam Jordan down the stretch of the 2017 season. Considered a raw project when drafted by the Saints in the 4th round of the 2016 draft from Manitoba, Onyemata worked his way into the defensive line rotation by the end of that season, appearing in all 32 games over his two seasons and starting six last year. He had 2 sacks in 2017, but applied consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks from the defensive interior, while having the athleticism to move outside in some alignments. Onyemata's improvement against the run has him rounding into an every down defender. His rapid progression has Saints coaches hoping that Onyemata next emerges as a Pro Bowl caliber defender. The hope is that he will team with Sheldon Rankins, the 12th overall pick in 2016 and potential star in his own right, to give New Orleans a disruptive and devastating interior combination. Alex Anzalone, LBChuck Cook-USA TODAY SportsLost in the historical success of the Saints 2017 draft class was that neither coaches or fans have yet to see if their athletic 3rd round pick at linebacker belongs in the conversation with that talented group. Anzalone, the second of three Saints 3rd round picks a year ago, and the 76th overall selection, played in just 4 games before a shoulder injury ended his season. He emerged from last preseason as a starter, starting all four contests before his injury. Anzalone has terrific athleticism, the ability to pursue sideline to sideline, rush the passer, or drop effectively into coverage. He has the ability to be an every down player at any of the linebacking spots, though his best fit looks to be on the weak side. He did look lost in the defense at times last season, particularly in coverage, but was playing better with each week, and was among the Saints top tacklers at the time of his injury. Anzalone's injury past are by far the biggest concern, dating back to his college days at Florida. He was labeled as a 1st round talent, with all star abilities, but now must stay on the field to prove it for a New Orleans defense that has re-built it's linebacking unit over the last two seasons. Trey Hendrickson, DEChuck Cook-USA TODAY SportsHendrickson, like Anzalone , had his rookie season hampered by injury. The third of the Saints 3rd round picks last year, 103rd overall, was drafted out of Florida Atlantic in hopes of providing an edge rushing threat opposite Cameron Jordan. His preseason got off to a slow start because of nagging injuries, but Hendrickson quickly worked his way into the line rotation as the season went along. He sets the edge well against the run, has a non-stop motor as a pass rusher, and a long reach to disrupt the opposing quarterback. Hendrickson had 2 sacks and a forced fumble while appearing in 12 games as a rookie. He missed four games down the stretch of the season with an ankle injury, but returned in time for the playoffs and played well. He will be in the mix for playing time this season with last year's starter Alex Okafor, George Johnson, and this year's 14th overall pick Marcus Davenport at defensive end. Trey Hendrickson, Alex Anzalone, David Onyemata, and Marcus Williams help make up a young core of Saints defenders that have already had success early in their careers. Continued improvement of these talented players, among a handful of others, is key if the Saints are to develop into an elite NFL defense. Mark Ingram insists his march into Saints history was never fueled by criticism that he was a bust during his underwhelming first few NFL seasons.That doesn't mean the 2009 Heisman Trophy winner with Alabama, and 2011 first-round draft choice by New Orleans, was able to tune out such slights entirely."I know people wanted me out, calling me a bust, this and that. I heard all that stuff my first few years, but I never really paid attention to the naysayers," Ingram said Monday after tying Deuce McAlister for the most rushing touchdowns in Saints history with 49."I always do it for the people who love me, for the people who care about me, for the people who believe in me," added Ingram, whose father, Mark Sr., was an NFL receiver. "I have a great support system. I have a good mind, good head on my shoulders and I've always had that belief in myself that I could be a great player in this league."Ingram's record-tying touchdown embodied the determination that carried him beyond the lean early years. He dragged Buccaneers safety Andrew Adams several yards before bowling into the end zone, giving New Orleans a more comfortable 11-point, fourth-quarter lead in its NFC South-clinching, 28-14 comeback victory in Tampa Bay on Sunday."I was hungry to make the play," Ingram said, crediting leading receiver Michael Thomas for a key block. "It was a big play in the game, and it was just a lot of emotions in that game having to come back, very gritty. So, very passionate and I was happy to be able to make that play for the team."Ingram said he also was pleased to join McAllister 鈥?whom he admires and considers a mentor 鈥?in the record books with a memorable run."That was a good run to be able to tie Deuce Cameron Jordan Jersey ," Ingram said. "He had such a great career here and set the standard for running backs coming through New Orleans. He's always been supportive of me and I appreciate him, so just to be able to have a run in that fashion to tie such a great record in this franchise, it's good."McAllister retired after the 2008 season, but remained in the New Orleans area and close to the Saints, working as a team ambassador and eventually becoming a radio analyst.Ingram said McAllister always has been "encouraging" and "supportive," describing how McAllister sometimes attends running back video sessions and shares his thoughts. "Or if he sees something in a game, he might send me a message.""It has just been a good relationship over the years and I appreciate him," Ingram continued. "I'm thankful for his mentorship and he's been a good asset to my career."While Ingram showed promise as a rookie, he missed six games with injuries and was a bit of an afterthought on a record-setting offense that featured quarterback Drew Brees, tight end Jimmy Graham, receiver Marcus Colston, and running backs Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas.Ingram rushed for 602 yards and five TDs in 16 games in 2012, then managed just 386 yards and one TD in 11 games for what was a playoff team in 2013.The overwhelming majority of his pro production has come since 2014, when he rushed for 964 yards and nine TDs in 13 games and was named to his first of two Pro Bowls. He has surpassed 1,000 yards each of the previous two seasons and had a career-high 12 TDs last season, despite splitting carries with Alvin Kamara.A four-game suspension, tied to a positive test for a banned substance, likely will prevent him from hitting 1,000 yards this season 鈥?his final campaign under contract. But he has averaged 4.7 yards per carry and has rushed for 519 yards and five TDs in nine games."He's run with confidence," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "His health has been outstanding really the last year and a half, two years. I thought the (touchdown) run (Sunday) was impressive and he's been real consistent. That's pretty good company when you look at what Deuce accomplished."Meanwhile, Ingram has established himself as a team-first, locker-room leader, most notably for how he's gone out of his way to hasten Kamara's development and celebrate his success, becoming close friends with the young running back in the process."If I'm bringing younger players along, making them better, teaching them and helping them and encouraging them, it makes the team better, and it makes the competition stronger, which makes me better," Ingram said.Ingram said if any younger players approach him for help, "I'm going to tell them what I think, what I see, what I would do. And try and encourage them and help them anyway I can just because that's just like what a good person would do in my eyes. I would never shun somebody just because I feel threatened. I'm going to compete. I'm going to work my butt off. I have confidence in my abilities no matter what."
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