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JOESAM2002 08-09-2003 06:46 PM

Jones and the defense.....
Jones welcome addition to Saints’ defense
Michael Krieg

August 9, 2003

METAIRIE — The New Orleans Saints made a number of moves during the offseason to bolster their suspect defense.

Perhaps, the best move was the trade for safety Tebucky Jones.

The Saints traded third and seventh round picks in the 2003 draft and a fourth round pick in the 2004 draft to the New England Patriots on April 15 for the talented safety.

In return, New Orleans received the versatile Jones and immediately locked him up, signing Jones to a seven-year contract.

The Saints coveted Jones’ rare size (6-1, 218) and speed for a safety. His ability to play cornerback also appealed to the Saints.

But perhaps what the Saints coveted the most about Jones is his Super Bowl ring. Jones believes this year’s Saints’ defense has what it takes to bring New Orleans a ring of its own.

“This defense is fantastic,� Jones said. “All we have to do is get everything to jell together and we can be where I was with them (New England) two years ago.�

Jones played safety at Syracuse, but the Patriots switched him to cornerback when he entered the league. Needless to say, the switch did both Jones and New England some good.

Jones helped lead the Patriots to a Super Bowl title just one year after he switched from cornerback to safety. He also has developed into one of the better safeties in the league and possesses the speed to stay with receivers on the sidelines, but also has the size and strength to stop the run.

“(Coach Bill) Belichick asked me if I wanted to keep playing corner or safety,� Jones said of the switch. “I was like I want to play safety because I get back there and see more hitting. I said, ‘OK, put me at safety’. The following year I won a Super Bowl ring.�

Jones is paired along side second year safety Mel Mitchell. Mitchell starred on special teams last season as a rookie and the other safety spot is his to lose. Mitchell’s size (6-1, 220) gives the Saints one of the biggest safety duos in the league.

“It looks like we’ve got a couple linebackers back there for sure,� secondary coach Joe Baker said.

Jones also gives the Saints a quality secondary with veteran leadership. Jones has 195 tackles, 29 pass breakups and four interceptions in 35 career starts. He also joins a secondary that includes Dale Carter, Ashley Ambrose and Fred Thomas.

“We have a veteran backfield that is pretty good,� Jones said. “We have young fast linebackers which helps my guys (secondary). Hey, we’re going to have a good defense.�

Special teams standout and reserve safety, Steve Gleason, is excited about the addition of Jones.

“I think at safety athletically with Tebucky and Mel — their size and speed alone is something,� Gleason said. “It’s an anomaly. Those two guys are big and fast and they’re good football players.�

Jones said he feels more comfortable since switching back to safety because he sees the field better and is more familiar with the position. He said his size and speed help, but he credits his quick learning ability and ability to play a variety of defenses as his biggest asset.

Baker expects Jones and Mitchell to be the leaders of the defense and Baker has been impressed with Jones’ first training camp with the Saints.

“You can see the speed and the ability right now,� Baker said. “Tebucky brings great enthusiasm and experience. There’s respect right away for his athletic ability and the way he’s throwing himself in with his enthusiasm he’s just doubled that.�

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