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this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Inside Slant The Saints believe they have one of the top three-man defensive end rotations in the NFL in Darren Howard, Charles Grant and Will Smith, who combined for 29 of the team's 37 sacks last season. They plan on ...

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Old 08-16-2005, 07:31 AM   #1
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Inside Slant

Inside Slant
The Saints believe they have one of the top three-man defensive end rotations in the NFL in Darren Howard, Charles Grant and Will Smith, who combined for 29 of the team's 37 sacks last season.
They plan on being even more disruptive this season. The Saints expect to move Howard, Grant and Smith around to make it more difficult for opposing teams to account for them from down to down.

Defensive coordinator Rick Venturi and defensive line coach John Pease successfully employed that tactic with Howard last season, but Grant and Smith will also add that role after getting another year under their belts.

Grant is a four-year veteran and Smith is entering his second season.

"The first thing is they're good football players," Pease said about using Grant and Smith in such an important role. "They're good football players and they're smart, which almost gives you another dimension that you can do more with."

That makes the decision to use them to try and cause havoc for offensive linemen and quarterbacks an easy one, Pease said.

"If you move them around, hopefully, it's going to be hard for people to identify," he said. "A lot of times guys get used to playing just one side and don't want to do it. But like Darren, Charles and Will can handle it, so we're going to move them all around."

That versatility will make speed-rushers like Howard, Grant and Smith even more dangerous. They got a taste of it in last few weeks of the 2004 season and liked it, Grant said.

"Once we started flip-flopping guys, the other team wasn't able to get used to the rush," said Grant, a 6-foot-3, 290-pounder. "Those linemen are used to watching how this guy or that guy likes to rush, but it's harder to do when we're all over the place."

Grant said that was a key strategy in the team's four-game winning streak to close out the 2004 season. A defense that was pounded in the first 12 games turned things around dramatically — just about cutting the number of points and yards they allowed per game in half.

Smith started only four games as a rookie, but his speed helped him turn some heads — especially late in the season. In the final six games, he had 4 1/2 of his 7 1/2 sacks and also forced four fumbles. So moving around suits him just fine.

"It's a lot of fun because you're not going up against the same (offensive lineman) the whole game," said Smith, a 6-3, 282-pounder who is extremely nimble. "When you get a lot of different looks, different slants on different guys, that makes the game a lot more fun."

CAMP CALENDAR: Camp closes Aug. 24.


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