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Williams, players find familiarity

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; METAIRIE — From the time he arrived as the New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator before last season, Gregg Williams preached and pleaded with his players to play fast and take the ball away from the opposition. It paid off with ...

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Old 08-23-2010, 08:00 PM   #1
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METAIRIE — From the time he arrived as the New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator before last season, Gregg Williams preached and pleaded with his players to play fast and take the ball away from the opposition.

It paid off with an NFL-high 39 takeaways, which turned a pedestrian defense into a big-play complement to New Orleans’ big-play offense, ultimately producing a Super Bowl championship.

As Williams prepares his defense for an encore, he’s looking for even more of the same, saying the difference between last year’s defense and this year’s in terms of familiarity with the scheme and one another is “light years.”

“You truly don’t know a person until you go through the ups and downs and stresses of a season,” Williams said. “They didn’t know me, and I didn’t know them. There’s a trust factor.

“I’m really able to evaluate more than just athletic ability right now, because I’m not looking at that. I know what it is.”

Just as Williams has a better understanding of his players’ talents, so do the players have a better understanding of how he wants to use them.

“We understand what we’re supposed to be doing now,” strong safety Roman Harper said. “It’s not like we’re just flying around. We have to continue to play with high intensity, high effort, and understanding the little intricacies within each call allows us to play that much faster and be better.”

The Saints could start the season with three new starters on defense. Charles Grant, who was the starter at left end before being sidelined by a torn triceps last season, was released in the offseason.

Two free agents — Alex Brown and Jimmy Wilkerson — are battling Bobby McCray, Grant’s replacement last season, to be his permanent replacement. Brown has the lead.

The departure of starting strongside linebacker Scott Fujita to Cleveland in free agency has led to some shuffling. Scott Shanle, the incumbent at weakside, has been moved to Fujita’s old spot, opening the door for second-year player Jonathan Casillas to take Shanle’s old spot.

Williams called Shanle “one of the most underrated linebackers in the National Football League.”

Malcolm Jenkins, the team’s No. 1 draft choice a year ago, was moved from cornerback to be All-Pro free safety Darren Sharper’s understudy, but Sharper has yet to practice because of offseason knee surgery, leaving open the possibility that Jenkins will start at least initially.

Middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma remains the quarterback of the defense, the cerebral extension of Williams on the field.

2theadvocate.com | Sports | Williams, players find familiarity — Baton Rouge, LA

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Last edited by Halo; 08-23-2010 at 08:24 PM.. Reason: moved the link from the top of the article to the bottom!
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