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tiggerpolice 06-19-2005 11:33 AM

Grant expects defense to build on strong finish
 
Grant expects defense to build on strong finish

By CHRIS SINGLETON
The Courier






HOUMA -- Saints defensive end Charles Grant vividly remembers the final four games of the 2004 season.

After four straight convincing victories against Dallas, Tampa Bay, Atlanta and Carolina to close out the season, Grant said Saints fans should expect the same momentum heading into this season.

"The same things you saw in the last four games last season, expect to see it this season," Grant said. "We have to step up to the plate and do what we do best, and that is playing at a high, consistent level for the whole season."

Prior to the late four-game winning streak, New Orleans was 4-8 and its season was on the brink of disaster. Although the Saints dramatically turned the season around and finished 8-8, they missed the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year.

The Saints ranked last in almost every defensive category before finishing strong. For the team to be successful, the defense must pick up where it left off last season, Grant said.

"That is the whole purpose of this season," Grant said. "We need to be in the top 10 in defense this season. If we are in the top 10, we are going to be (in the Super Bowl) in Detroit. We have to go out there and handle our business defensively."

The Saints’ defense gave up 20-plus points in each of the first 12 games last season. When asked why the defense was successful in the final four games, Grant simply answered, "The will to do it."

After three years on the Saints’ roster, Grant has emerged as one of the NFL’s top defensive linemen. He had a stellar 2004 season, posting career highs in tackles (113) and sacks (10.5). He also intercepted a pass, forced three fumbles and recovered one.

He has steadily improved since being drafted, increasing his sack totals every year since 2002. Grant has posted more sacks in his first three years than any other Saints player in history. According to Saints Director of Player Personnel Rick Mueller, Grant is a strong link for the entire team.

"He has done nothing but work hard," Mueller said. "He has developed into a leadership role in the defense. He is the kind of guy that we need in this organization in order to be successful."

Saints coach Jim Haslett echoed Mueller’s sentiments and touted the team’s talent at defensive end.

"I think Charles has a chance to be one of the best defensive linemen in the NFL this season," Haslett said. "We have a good trio with him, Will Smith and Darren Howard. That is probably our best position on the team."

Grant said his fellow defensive linemen are a great group of guys that brings something different to the table.

"It’s a great feeling playing with them," Grant said. "D-Howard and Tony (Bryant) are the quick guys, and Tony can play with a little power like Will. I’m a more physical, finesse guy. Each guy has characteristics to make us successful and give you what you want."

Another reason Grant is excited about the upcoming season is because of the Saints’ offseason workout program, he said.

"This has been the best offseason program ever," Grant said. "We lifted real hard, and everybody worked together and had fun."

Since the final minicamp ended June 12, Saints players are off until training camp opens July 29. Grant said his plans are to continue his past routines, which include going home to Georgia.

"I usually go home to the country and train two to three times a day," he said. "It has been doing the trick for me the past few years, so I am going to keep the same routine up this year."

With the season quickly approaching, Grant predicts an intense atmosphere from the team on and off the football field.

"We have to get more of our fans to the Superdome to support us a lot more," Grant said.

"It’s going to be a banner year for us."


http://www.houmatoday.com/apps/pbcs..../1032/SPORTS01

FireVenturi 06-19-2005 05:47 PM

defense has no excuse this year, most talent since the dome patrol. no comparison of course, but the most speed we had in close to ten years. No excuses!!!!!!!

spkb25 06-19-2005 06:04 PM

agreed fire. but they always seem to have one venturi

TheDeuce 06-19-2005 09:40 PM

Charles Grant is such a stud. I think he's the best DL we have. Period. I hope he steps up this season and leads by example and gets the best out of all the defensive players around him.

WhoDat 06-20-2005 11:13 AM

Quote:

Grant has posted more sacks in his first three years than any other Saints player in history. According to Saints Director of Player Personnel Rick Mueller, Grant is a strong link for the entire team.
Holy Carp. Now that is saying something.


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