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papz 09-05-2013 08:05 PM

John DeShazier: Falcons game different for Saints linebacker Curtis Lofton this year
 
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The novelty hasnít totally worn off for inside linebacker Curtis Lofton, though he certainly expects it to lessen with time.

But still he understands, and feels, what it means to be a second-year Saint after having been a four-year Falcon, having seen the rivalry from each perspective, a rivalry thatíll add another chapter Sunday when the teams open the regular season in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

ďLast year was the first year,Ē Lofton said. ďI think as the years go along thatís going to start to fade. I guess that hate they have for me leaving and coming here, hopefully thatís going to go away. But for me, going into this game is different.Ē

Not so different that itíll affect Loftonís performance, mind you.

He totaled 22 tackles and two passes defensed in two games against Atlanta last year, part of a 157-tackle season, his fourth consecutive year with at least 142 stops.

But it was reasonable that last season, he experienced a bit of an odd feeling when he lined up against the Falcons for the first time.

The select teammates he hadnít been allowed to touch while wearing a Falcons helmet were fair game, to be pummeled between the whistles, once his helmet bore the fleur-de-lis.

But now, more and more it becomes about Atlanta being an opponent that stands in the way of the Saints reaching their goals, than about the names on the backs of the jerseys. And about the Falcons being New Orleansí season-opening opponent this season, than about whether it may look odd to see his former team entering the field from the place he once entered it from.

And about the 6-foot, 241-pound Lofton, again, assuming a leadership role on the Saintsí defense.

Like last season, New Orleans will enter the regular season minus linebacker Jonathan Vilma, who has been the defensive voice since joining the team in 2008. Like last season, Lofton, who never has missed a game in his NFL career, was a natural to fill the void with his own voice.

ďHeís now the signal-caller, heís now the guy whoís playing Mike, he played it a year ago,Ē Coach Sean Payton said. ďHeís physical, heís a smart player, he brings that leadership to the room.

ď(Heís) a guy with experience and a guy thatís a very good tackler. Heís well-built so in that 3-4 front, youíre playing someone over the guard thatís uncovered, often times heís taking on a bigger lineman than maybe in a 4-3 scheme. Heís handled that transition very well.Ē

Said Lofton: ďIíve been doing it for a while. When you have that helmet communicator, youíve got to be calm, patient and know that sometimes, things arenít going to go well and youíve got to be that solid rock for the guys. Thatís something Iím used to being. Iíve got to keep improving on doing that.

ďI pride myself in being an inside linebacker thatís been physical. So any time thereís a guard, a tackle or whoever, Iíve got to go in and knock him back so I can get to the running back and finish. Thatís something I pride myself in.Ē

Apparently, itís working.

Lofton had 10 games of at least nine tackles last season, 14 with a least eight. His 10 passes defensed were a career high and while the defense allowed a record-setting total of yards (7,042), Lofton showed he was worth the investment.

Specifically, he did what he always has done. And there was nothing novel about that.

Regardless of where Lofton has played, who he has played for, who he has played alongside and which tunnel he has used, Lofton has led and produced. Nothing less is expected Sunday, too.

John DeShazier: Falcons game different for Saints linebacker Curtis Lofton this year

QBREES9 09-06-2013 01:14 AM

Re: John DeShazier: Falcons game different for Saints linebacker Curtis Lofton this year
 
Have a day Curtis.

hagan714 09-06-2013 08:28 AM

Re: John DeShazier: Falcons game different for Saints linebacker Curtis Lofton this year
 
attack and fill the field with snot bubbles

Rugby Saint II 09-07-2013 01:34 PM

Re: John DeShazier: Falcons game different for Saints linebacker Curtis Lofton this year
 
Hit Dat!

homerj07 09-07-2013 10:42 PM

Re: John DeShazier: Falcons game different for Saints linebacker Curtis Lofton this year
 
Kick there red baboon asses - up one side & down the other.


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