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papz 09-24-2010 09:00 AM

Saints SS Harper quietly making mark on defense
by Bradley Handwerger / Eyewitness Sports

Posted on September 23, 2010 at 4:49 PM

Updated today at 8:24 AM

METAIRIE, La. ― If Roman Harper had better timing, he could have found himself on the shoulders of his teammates, riding out of Candlestick Park a hero.

Alas, the Saints’ strong safety came up with an interception in the first quarter of New Orleans’ 25-22 win over San Francisco, not the end of the game when the team seemingly needed it the most.

“If it was the end of the game, we would have carried him off on his shoulders,” New Orleans cornerback Jabari Greer said. “But we had a whole three quarter to go so it would have been out of place.”

On Sunday, Harper will get another chance to play the hero when his Saints (2-0) host NFC South rival Atlanta (1-1) in a noon game at the Superdome.

So far this season, Harper’s contributions to defense have been wide-ranging. He’s third on the team with 12 tackles, has forced a fumble and has two quarterback hits to lead the defense.

“Roman right now is playing lights out for us,” Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams said. “He really is. We kind of ask him also to step up from a leadership standpoint, because Darren’s (Sharper) not on the field. I’ve been real pleased with what I’ve seen him do and what he has helped Malcolm (Jenkins) do.”

In the season opener against Minnesota – a 14-9 win – Vikings tight end Visanthe Shiancoe was presenting problems for the defense by the end of the first half.

Shiancoe set up the Vikings’ first touchdown, catching a 33-yard pass down the seam with linebacker Scott Shanle in coverage. A play later, Shiancoe caught a 20-yard touchdown pass from Brett Favre, beating Jonathan Vilma and a late-charging Greer.

So, at halftime, Williams made a change, putting Harper on the tall and athletic tight end. Shiancoe didn’t catch a pass the rest of the game despite being targeted two more times in the game.

“I know what I’m supposed to do now,” Harper said. “It’s just little keys now that (Williams) allows us to do that allows me to play a little bit faster. Or, if I see something, I can make a different call. It comes within this defense.”

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Saints SS Harper quietly making mark on defense | | WWL Sports

homerj07 09-24-2010 10:15 AM

Kewl!! Go man go!!

DRsaints 09-24-2010 12:36 PM

I'm glad he's finally stepping up in the passing game. In past years, he's been something of a liability in pass defense.

neugey 09-24-2010 09:19 PM

He has been playing very well lately. He may not be an all-pro but he's always been solid for us.

QBREES9 09-24-2010 11:01 PM

Most improved. Harper, Sharper One TWO Punch. He's doing a great job. Wheres Sharper.

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