METAIRIE, LA (WVUE) - Training camp in the Louisiana heat is grueling for everyone, every year, no matter how many times you've been through it. That's what makes the quick return of defensive end Alex Okafor to full participation so impressive and motivating to his teammates.
When you have a guy like him who loves the game as much as he loves the game, you can see it in his preparation," says defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins. "You can see it, obviously, in the way he's rehabbed and the way he goes out there and plays down in and down out. It definitely gets you fired up when you know one of your guys was pushing that hard to be able to get back out here for day one of camp."
"I feel good," says Okafor. "I think the twitch and explosion is back there. I've just got to build that strength back. As far as quickness and burst off the ball, I have that back. I don't think there will be any dropoff in that."
You can't help but admire Okafor's resiliency in approaching the injury. It would have been easy to be down after having a great season cut short, but he wrote the injury off as part of the game, and said he immediately knew that with an 8-10 month recovery time period, he would have a shot to make training camp here in New Orleans.
"I knew coming into the offseason, whether I was healthy or not, that I wanted to stay here," says Okafor. "I made that very public. As soon as free agency started, we started negotiating. Nothing took us off that, and I'm happy to be here."
And the Saints should be happy to have him here. Should Okafor return to the same form that he had a year ago, the black and gold could all of a sudden have a very deep pool of talent along the defensive line.