Besides the recent emphasis on improving a much maligned special teams unit with Baton Rouge native Bradford Banta, another group has made serious positive strides. The linebacker corps seems to be, albeit preseason, a much improved group thus far. They are younger, faster and very versatile players.
The most important, in my opinion, was the signing of ex divisional foe AJ Klein. He learned from Luke Kuechly in Carolina a probable Hall of Famer. His three year, 15 million dollar contract, barring injury, is a home run. He’s showed leadership qualities to the point he was made a defensive captain. Manti Te’o is another little talked about move, if he can stay healthy he will be the mike in the base defense. The other starting LB is 2016 leading tackler Craig Robertson a solid player. The Saints finally cut bait with Ellerbe, because the greatest ability is yada yada yada right?
Florida rookie Alex Anzalone had looked very impressive, as has CFL star Adam Bighill. Bighill has had an interception and a sack the last two games and when on the field, he just makes plays; he’s the defensive version of TommyLee. You can’t let high energy players like this get away. Mandeville native Michael Mauti, Nate Stupar and newly acquired Bryan Braman add depth and as important are Special teams demons. This linebacker group should be vastly more versatile and much better in pass coverage than the last few years. I haven’t even mentioned former first rounder Stephone Anthony because I don’t even know if he makes the final 53. Hau’oli Kikaha is to me a hybrid OLB/DE but he can wreck any play at ant time, his motor is amazing. So included or not, on the roster or not
, This group is much improved and I have high hopes for any overall defensive improvement. We’ll see when the real bullets fly but I like the moves the were made this off season.
Update: Since the posting of this article, Michael Mauti has been cut and Adam Bighill has been added to the practice squad.