With new additions at every level of the defense, the Saints laid the groundwork to an improved unit. Throw in a pair of preseason shutouts, including eight sacks against the Chargers, and it feels like they're on the verge of a much better 2017 campaign. However, it doesn't mean a thing if they don't go out and prove it against the Vikings.
“It's one thing to say, ‘Hey, we were rolling this preseason,’” says defensive end Cam Jordan. “But at the end of the day, it's just preseason. Now it's time to roll into this Monday night game, and what better stage to do it than the first week?”
That doesn't mean the preseason was for nothing, though. It serves as the perfect primer and shows the Saints and the rest of the league that they have the potential to be a game-changing group.
“This first week's a big test for us on the road on Monday Night Football on national television,” says linebacker A.J. Klein. “Everybody's just really excited. We can't get overly excited. We have to stay grounded and go through our normal game plan and be as prepared as possible. We don't want to let this game get too big.”
The team says there's no magic recipe and no hidden or secret scheme that's going to take this defense to the next level; just the simple, sound execution we saw throughout training camp.
“It's not the play that matters,” says linebacker Manti Teo. “It's how we play that play. We're trying to instill that culture here about always flying to the ball and everybody being on the screen and really delivering a message when we're out there.”
First and second round draft picks Marshon Lattimore and Marcus Williams figure to play meaningful roles in the Saints secondary and say they're not nervous or anxious about their first regular season games. We’ll see how quickly they get up to speed in what will be a hostile Monday Night Football atmosphere.
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