Saints defense preps for Tampa's unique receivers
NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - In their season-opening loss to Arizona, the Saints allowed 307 passing yards, the sixth-worst performance of week one. This Sunday, they'll face one of the NFL's more unique set of receivers with Tampa Bay's three primary targets each standing a monstrous 6'5".
"They're all very tall, big body receivers," safety Kenny Vaccaro said. "Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, big body tight end who can go up and get it."
Jackson has been a thorn in the Saints side since 2012. Evans, the second year standout, sat out Week 1 with a hamstring injury, but is back at practice and expected to play this week. The Saints secondary understands the challenge in front of them.
"Those guys are big, physical guys," defensive back Damian Swann said. "(We) Gotta disrupt them. You know they're gonna go up and fight for the ball. (We) Gotta do everything you can to compete, make them work for it, and just go out and play football.
Corner Delvin Breaux added, "You know they have the jump ball. Those guys, you just toss it up to them and they make a play. But us being six-foot-four and six-foot-one, it's going to be a challenge for those receivers, so we have to compete on those jump balls."
The Saints added 6'4" defensive back Brandon Browner for many reasons, his physical play and size, championship experience, and his specific ability to match up well against these bigger targets. Browner's offensive teammates know he's capable of shutting down the opposition, regardless of stature.
"His game's being physical and he's very good at it, getting his hands on you at the line of scrimmage," quarterback Drew Brees said. "Plus he's just a really good athlete for being a guy that big and long. He's super-competitive too. I think that is his best attribute is the same mentality he brings to the game is what he brings to practice, so as he is going up against our receivers, he is making them better in the process of him working on his own technique and that kind of thing."
Wide receiver Brandin Cooks added, "They go against guys like Brandon Coleman every single day. Seantavius Jones, Marques Colston, so it's nothing different. Those guys are giving them good looks, so I feel like they'll be ready."
Despite all that size and experience in the receiving corps, Tampa Bay still has a rookie under center. Jameis Winston became the first NFL quarterback since Brett Favre in the early 1990's to throw a pick-6 on his first pass as a pro. But the Saints expect Winston to play much better this weekend. Vaccaro said Winston should be much more comfortable and much more dangerous.
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