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New Orleans Saints News

News » Remake of Saints 'D' continues


Remake of Saints 'D' continues


Remake of Saints 'D' continues
When the 2008 season came to an end on Dec. 28, we knew the New Orleans Saints defense would not look the same when they opened the '09 season.


What we didn't know at the time was how extensive the makeover would be.

We do now.

Starting with the firing of defensive coordinator Gary Gibbs and subsequent hiring of Gregg Williams, Saints coach Sean Payton showed he meant business.

And there was plenty of evidence to suggest he should be dissatisfied after big plays, breakdowns in the secondary and a lack of a consistent pass rush helped keep the Saints out of the playoffs for the second straight season.

After two months of revamping and remodeling, tearing down here and adding there, seven players on last year's defense are gone and eight new players are in the mix.

Five defensive players from last season have also been re-signed - including middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma, the team's defensive MVP.

Following Gibbs out the door on Airline Drive in Metairie were free safeties Josh Bullocks and Kevin Kaesviharn and cornerback Mike McKenzie.

Aging cornerback Aaron Glenn and defensive tackle Antwan Lake technically remain unrestricted free agents at this point, but it's unlikely they'll be re-signed.

The list of newcomers includes cornerback Jabari Greer, safeties Darren Sharper and Pierson Prioleau, defensive lineman Paul Spicer and defensive tackle Rod Coleman.

Greer is expected to be penciled in as a starter at cornerback and Sharper will likely replace Bullocks and Kaesviharn, who were the starting free safeties in 2007 and '08, respectively.

The Saints' top three picks in last weekend's draft - cornerback Malcolm Jenkins, free safety Chip Vaughn and linebacker Stanley Arnoux - added to the makeover.

So it's been a busy, busy offseason for Payton and Williams. And apparently, it's not over yet.

In the last two days, the Saints released defensive tackles Brian Young and Hollis Thomas, who both started in the past.

Young, like McKenzie, finished the last two seasons on injured reserve. Thomas battled weight problems in his three seasons with the Saints and last summer tore a triceps muscle that cost him half the season.

There could be more comings and goings in the weeks ahead as the Saints prepare for a series of 12 organized team activities that begin May 19, which will give Williams his first opportunity to work on the field with his new players.

Add the return to health of defensive ends Will Smith and Charles Grant and cornerback Tracy Porter, and it's easy to see why Payton is liking what they've done with the place.

"I feel better about the defense," Payton said after the draft ended Sunday. "I feel like we're a lot further along than when we were ending the season with a lot of injuries."



Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 30, 2009

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Joey Porter Name: Joey Porter
#55
Position: LB
Age: 31
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