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 same way.
"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.
|1||AUG 9||7:00pm CDT||Chiefs|
|2||AUG 16||7:00pm CDT||Raiders|
|3||AUG 25||3:00pm CDT||at Texans|
|4||AUG 29||6:30pm CDT||at Texans|
|1||SEP 8||12:00pm CDT||Falcons|
|2||SEP 15||3:05pm CDT||at Buccaneers|
|3||SEP 22||12:00pm CDT||Cardinals|
|4||SEP 30||7:40pm CDT||Dolphins|
|5||OCT 6||12:00pm CDT||at Bears|
|6||OCT 13||3:25pm CDT||at Patriots|
|8||OCT 27||12:00pm CDT||Bills|
|9||NOV 3||12:00pm CDT||at Jets|
|10||NOV 10||7:30pm CDT||Cowboys|
|11||NOV 17||3:25pm CDT||49ers|
|12||NOV 21||7:25pm CDT||at Falcons|
|13||DEC 2||7:40pm CDT||at Seahawks|
|14||DEC 8||12:00pm CDT||Panthers|
|15||DEC 15||12:00pm CDT||at Rams|
|16||DEC 22||12:00pm CDT||at Panthers|
|17||DEC 29||12:00pm CDT||Buccaneers|