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QBREES9 01-13-2010 12:27 PM

The return of cornerbacks Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter
 
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The return of cornerbacks Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter gives the New Orleans Saints' defense a whole new look

By Nakia Hogan, The Times-Picayune

The Saints' defensive coordinator couldn't be himself down the stretch.




Gregg Williams prides himself on coaching an attacking defense, one that uses an assortment of creative blitzes and an array of substitution packages to keep the offense off balance.
But when starting cornerbacks Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter were felled by injuries during the second half of the season, Williams' Saints defense lost a bit of its personality and identity.
Now that Greer and Porter have recovered, the once opportunistic Saints defense just might return to its early-season form.
And it couldn't come at a better time as the Saints are preparing to host the high-octane Arizona Cardinals in a divisional round playoff game Saturday at the Superdome.
"It's good to have those guys taking snaps and working, " Saints Coach Sean Payton said. "We have a few different combination coverages in regards to who might play in the nickel and dime packages, but overall I think when healthy that's a strength of ours."
The cornerbacks haven't been healthy much lately, though.
Greer, the team's No. 1 cornerback sustained a sports hernia on Nov. 8 that required surgery and he didn't return until the season finale against the Carolina Panthers.
A week after Greer's injury, Porter, the starter at right cornerback, suffered a sprained knee that kept him out of four games.
In the meantime, the defense slumped.
The Saints dropped from No. 16 in the NFL in pass defense at midseason to No. 26 by season's end, as they mostly played without Greer and Porter.
Before the injuries the Saints' defense played like a den of thieves, amassing an NFL-high 24 takeaways and scoring seven touchdowns on five interceptions and two fumble returns.
But while Greer and Porter were mostly on the sideline, the Saints had just 15 takeaways and scored only one defensive touchdown in the final eight games.
Several Saints players and coaches said the drop off in defensive play could be attributed to the loss of Greer and Porter, who were both playing at a high level.
Williams even admitted that without the two in the lineup he had to call more vanilla defensive plays because he didn't want to leave his reserve cornerbacks susceptible to big plays while trying to blitz the opposing quarterback.
"Having both of us allows the defense to be more versatile, " Porter said. "We can do a lot more things, given that they have a lot more faith in Jabari and myself covering the receivers on our own. It just allows Gregg to open up the playbook and do more things defensively."
Before the injury Greer, 5-feet-11, 180 pounds, appeared to be headed to the Pro Bowl. Greer, an offseason free agent signee playing in his first season with the Saints, finished the regular season with 52 tackles, two interceptions and 12 breakups in just nine games. He returned one of his picks 48 yards for a touchdown.
In 12 games, Porter (5-11, 186), a second-round pick in 2008, registered 69 tackles, four interceptions and 16 pass breakups. He also had a game-clinching 54-yard interception return for a touchdown against the Miami Dolphins.
"Anytime that you can have corners that are playing well, you allow the defense to do different things, " Greer said. "We get to free up a little space for the rush."
That could mean trouble for the Cardinals, who are coming off an impressive offensive performance against Green Bay in which Arizona racked up 531 yards of offense in a 51-45 overtime win.
While Arizona has a potent offense led by two-time MVP winning quarterback Kurt Warner and star receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin, whose status for Saturday's game is uncertain, the Saints two starting cornerbacks have displayed an ability to hold down opposing receivers.
In fact, the only touchdown either Greer or Porter has allowed this season came in Week 8 when Greer was beaten by Atlanta Falcon receiver Roddy White for a 68-yard touchdown on a play that appeared to be offensive pass interference but was not called.
"We are playing with confidence, " Porter said. "You have to play with confidence at this position. You don't want to have too much confidence to where it looks like you are arrogant but at the same time you don't want to have too little confidence to where the opposing quarterback can pick on you. So having that level of balance that I think Jabari and I have is definitely paying off.
"It's going to be a challenge (Saturday) because they are coming off a big win in the wild card round. We are just looking forward to the challenge."
The challenge appears to be even more daunting because the Cardinals' top two receivers are big and physical. And even after Fitzgerald and Boldin, reserves Steve Breaston and former LSU standout Early Doucet have displayed the ability to make big plays after the catch.
"We have to get up for the challenge, " Greer said. "This is a golden opportunity, a special situation that we are in. We just know that we have an opportunity to rise to the occasion and impact our year and make it a special season."
If Porter and Greer can continue to play with the type of confidence and skill they did earlier in the season, they will not only help the Saints advance in the postseason but they can also etch their names as one of the league's top cornerback tandems.
"As we continue to progress and we continue to make plays they will start to recognize us, " Greer said. "But until then we just make sure we continue to do our part to impact this defense and be a part of this defense."

breesfan27 01-13-2010 02:42 PM

Re: The return of cornerbacks Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter
 
I am soo happy to have them back! Can't wait til Saturday! Who Dat!

Danno 01-13-2010 02:58 PM

Re: The return of cornerbacks Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by breesfan27 (Post 191636)
I am soo happy to have them back! Can't wait til Saturday! Who Dat!

You and me both mister, I just hope both are 100% physically and mentally after missing so many games.

I assume both are ready on both accounts.

breesfan27 01-13-2010 03:09 PM

Re: The return of cornerbacks Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Danno (Post 191643)
You and me both mister, I just hope both are 100% physically and mentally after missing so many games.

I assume both are ready on both accounts.

LOL I'm a chick!

But yes, I hope they are both ready 100% for this weekend! :D

strato 01-13-2010 03:25 PM

Re: The return of cornerbacks Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by breesfan27 (Post 191647)
LOL I'm a chick!

But yes, I hope they are both ready 100% for this weekend! :D

Me to sister..lol..somebody needs to post this upside the head of Skip Clueless!!!

DjBlueBeast 01-13-2010 09:38 PM

Re: The return of cornerbacks Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter
 
so anxious ............ lets do this . . . . . cardinal gumbo after the game ?

Rugby Saint II 01-14-2010 06:01 PM

Re: The return of cornerbacks Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter
 
You and me both mister....err You and me both sister

homerj07 01-15-2010 10:33 AM

Re: The return of cornerbacks Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter
 
I think all of us - regardless of gender - really hope they step up to the level they were before they went down!!


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