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In light of injuries, Saints younger linebackers get their chance

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; The goal of all young NFL players in training camp is to make the most of their opportunities — when, and if, they come. As of Tuesday, there was no “if” in the New Orleans Saints’ camp. With injuries to ...

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Old 07-31-2013, 06:59 PM   #1
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The goal of all young NFL players in training camp is to make the most of their opportunities — when, and if, they come.

As of Tuesday, there was no “if” in the New Orleans Saints’ camp.

With injuries to projected starting strongside linebacker Victor Butler and his likely backup, Martez Wilson, there will be plenty of opportunities in the coming weeks for rookies Rufus Johnson, Chase Thomas and Eric Martin — as well as Baraka Atkins, a three-year veteran who hasn’t played in a regular-season game since 2009.

Butler tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in one of the team’s final OTAs and could miss the entire season. Wilson dislocated his elbow near the end of Monday’s practice and will be sidelined 2-to-4 weeks.

Their absence opened the door for Johnson, Thomas, Martin and Atkins to line up behind current starters Will Smith and Junior Galette and make a lasting impression on the coaching staff.

Johnson, a sixth-round draft pick, Thomas and Atkins started making their case when they got reps with the second-team defense Tuesday. Thomas, an undrafted free agent, also got some snaps with the ones, while Martin, who also was not drafted this spring, worked with the third group.

“We have enough numbers,” Saints coach Sean Payton said of mixing and matching younger personnel in to work around the injuries. “It’s really just about getting a chance to see these guys in team drills, but also in the one-on-one pass rush drills and some of the individual stuff.”

Johnson, a 6-foot-5, 272-pounder who played defensive end for Division II Tarleton State, welcomed the chance to work with the second team after playing exclusively with the third team in the early stages of camp.

Johnson had a big moment in one-on-one pass protection drills when he easily beat current starting left tackle Charles Brown.

“This was a big opportunity for me today,” said Johnson, who had 10 sacks as a college senior. “I thought I did pretty well, but coach Payton told me to focus on my pass-rushing drills. That’s my big deal, so I’m going to keep working on that.

“I’m also working on my pass coverage, too, because it’s good to be versatile at this position. Injuries are going to come, but you have to bring guys up and keep rolling. You keep working and it’ll all play out.”

Thomas, who has also been playing with the third team, moved up to the second team on the strong side and also got a few snaps against the No. 1 offense in certain substitution packages.

“It’s a blessing, but you can’t look too much at the depth chart right now because it’s so early in camp,” he said.

“At the same time, when you get the opportunity to go against the first offensive line and (tight end) Jimmy Graham and Drew Brees, it’s a pretty surreal feeling. You have to go out there and attack it like any other day and another practice and make sure you get better with each rep.”

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Old 07-31-2013, 09:10 PM   #2
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Re: In light of injuries, Saints younger linebackers get their chance

Rufus, I'm pulling for ya'.
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Old 07-31-2013, 10:02 PM   #3
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Re: In light of injuries, Saints younger linebackers get their chance

Originally Posted by halloween 65 View Post
Rufus, I'm pulling for ya'.
Two Dat!
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Old 07-31-2013, 11:00 PM   #4
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Re: In light of injuries, Saints younger linebackers get their chance

Hell I'm pulling for anybody, even if they arent even on the team yet.
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Old 07-31-2013, 11:13 PM   #5
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Re: In light of injuries, Saints younger linebackers get their chance

Johnson had a big moment in one-on-one pass protection drills when he easily beat current starting left tackle Charles Brown.

That's encouraging...
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Old 07-31-2013, 11:21 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Rugby Saint II View Post
Two Dat!
3DAT!!!
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Old 08-01-2013, 12:44 AM   #7
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Re: In light of injuries, Saints younger linebackers get their chance

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Old 08-01-2013, 03:11 AM   #8
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Re: In light of injuries, Saints younger linebackers get their chance

Originally Posted by FinSaint View Post
That's encouraging...
Well that depends. If Rufus ends up being an opening day starter then its probably not a big problem. If he is cut or placed on PS thou...
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Old 08-01-2013, 09:39 AM   #9
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Re: In light of injuries, Saints younger linebackers get their chance

Originally Posted by The Dude View Post
Hell I'm pulling for anybody, even if they arent even on the team yet.
Well at least we ain't cursing Shanley.
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Last edited by foreverfan; 08-01-2013 at 09:42 AM..
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Old 08-01-2013, 09:26 PM   #10
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Re: In light of injuries, Saints younger linebackers get their chance

Hungry players will take an opportunity like this & shine.
Playa gotta play!
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The Latest Eric Martin News | SportSpyder This thread Refback 08-01-2013 10:37 AM 1
The Latest Jimmy Graham News | SportSpyder This thread Refback 08-01-2013 12:25 AM 1
In light of injuries, Saints younger linebackers get their chance This thread Refback 07-31-2013 08:18 PM 25
The Latest Baraka Atkins News | SportSpyder This thread Refback 07-31-2013 07:09 PM 2


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