New Orleans, La. - The renaissance of the worst defense in the league starts up
front with the defensive line - the three men responsible for the initial push
against opposing offenses. When veteran left defensive end and former Cowboy
Kenyon Coleman went down with a torn pectoral muscle, the questions started
piling up. So far, the Saints front is definitively answering them, starting
with defensive end Cam Jordan.
"I think he's in a real good spot with his stature and
his weight right now," said head Coach Sean Payton. "He's in great shape. I think he was one of the bright spots a year ago, and he's handled this
transition really well. He's going to be on the field a lot, not only on the
base. He rushes the passer well, he's physical, and he's provided good
leadership. He has worked hard."
Jordan's versatility, speed off the snap and ability
to shake off blockers has been impressive, but he says he still needs to
get faster and stronger in his transition from a left defensive end in a 4-3
formation to a right defensive end in Ryan's 3-4 alignment.
"It's only preseason, so I'm just trying to catch my
feel for it," Jordan said. "The only thing that I've got going for me is that I've played the
3-4 in college and saw a couple of 3-4 packages with coach Gregg
Williams. I think that I can play anything, honestly.
I feel that every position you put me in, I think I can excel at. That's the
mentality every day."
Given Jordan's initial success, some are already
drawing comparisons between him and the Texans star 3-4 defensive end JJ Watt.
Payton won't go that far, but will say the two players will be used in much the
"They're going to be aligned in a similar
position," Payton said. "They both probably are going to play not
only in the base, but in the nickel. How they're used, there will be some
similarities. With Watt, he's around the ball, he's relentless, very athletic,
and he's very powerful. He's someone that plays a lot of snaps and is a challenge
for whoever is matched up against him."
Meanwhile, at the other end of the line, Akiem Hicks' growth
from year one to year two is promising, as he's tried to prove his worth holding
down the left end. Coaches are especially pleased with the improvement of his
leverage skills. Broderick Buckley and John Jenkins are pushing each other at
nose guard, and a talented pool of hopefuls stands behind them all, competing
to be backups.
Thursday, August 28 2014 9:33 AM EDT2014-08-28 13:33:06 GMT
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