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SmashMouth 08-14-2011 05:27 AM

New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Casillas is hoping this will be a breakout season
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Leading up to the New Orleans Saints' 24-3 preseason-opening win against the San Francisco 49ers on Friday night, reserve linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar got together with fellow backup linebacker Jonathan Casillas.
New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Casillas (52) joins teammates tackling San Francisco 49ers running back Kendall Hunter (32) during the preseason game between the New Orleans Saints and San Francisco 49ers at the Superdome on Friday.
They chatted about what Casillas, who is coming off Lisfranc foot surgery that forced him to miss the entire 2010 season, could expect against the 49ers. They talked about playing hard and playing fast, much like Casillas did last preseason before the injury robbed him of his opportunity to become a starter in the NFL.
Against San Francisco, he played like he wants another shot.
"It's good to see him back," Dunbar said. "He is an eager player. He loves playing football, and I like playing next to him. Whenever you can get in there and you see him run and flash and make some plays, it is always good. That's what he did."
Playing in his first game since being injured last September in the final preseason game against the Tennessee Titans, Casillas looked much like the player who became the star of the Saints' 2010 training camp.
Flying around the field and showcasing his superior athleticism, Casillas, 6 feet 1, 227 pounds, had a game-high seven tackles, two tackles for losses, a sack and three quarterback hurries in the Saints' blitz-heavy game plan.
"It was good," said Casillas. "It was a good feeling. I was flying around out there. I wasn't exactly doing what I was supposed to every play, but at the same time, I was going 110 miles per hour. It just felt good to be back out there."
Entering his third season, Casillas has spent the first two weeks of training camp backing up incumbent starter Scott Shanle at the weakside position.
Casillas, however, appears to have the perfect combination of speed and athleticism to provide the type of dynamic playmaking defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is seeking from the position.
He showed it off Friday night, blitzing from the corner and regularly pressuring 49ers backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
"I thought he played just the way he has been practicing," middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma said. "He's been doing a great job. He's been getting after it, hustling. He picked up right where he left off last year. What I saw (Friday) didn't surprise me at all."
One solid performance likely won't be enough for Casillas to supplant Shanle, who has held the starting job the past five years and re-signed with the Saints last month for two years and $4 million.
Casillas said he isn't going to rest on one game. He still has something to prove.

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dizzle88 08-14-2011 06:12 AM

Casillas always seems to be flying around all over the field, racking up the stats and always being the one first to the ball. He did it last preseason, and if his stats from the first game say anything, he will be the starter soon!

crawgator 08-14-2011 06:18 AM

I really Like this guy.. He has just been so unlucky.. That dam injury bug keeps grabbing him.. But with that being said.. What I saw in the 49er's game is the same Casillas I saw in his college days. Fast, running to the ball, always seams to be at the right place at the right time.. If he keeps it up he should beat out Shanle.. Might be just the guy we need in that position..


Ashley 08-14-2011 08:40 AM

Keep it up man, your time is now!

|Mitch| 08-14-2011 09:21 AM

He was dominant like this in last season's preseason until the injury. I believe he already had a starting spot until he was injured: last year.

QBREES9 08-14-2011 10:06 AM

It was his Job last year. It will be his this year.

alexonfyre 08-14-2011 11:42 AM

I love Cassilas and all, but unfortunately its probably his knee that's going to have a break-out season.

TheDeuce 08-14-2011 01:32 PM

I wasn't a huge Casillas supporter until I watched the game last night on the replay. Guy was EVERYWHERE. Really impressed with his pass rushing skills, but he also showed good speed. Hope he can stay healthy.

LBCutta 08-14-2011 02:17 PM

He'll easily beat out Shanle. As long as he stays healthy...

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