2013 DRAFT GUIDE
Saints confident in depth at inside linebacker

    2013-08-20 02:21

(Eds: With AP Photos.)
By BRETT MARTEL
AP Sports Writer

METAIRIE, La. (AP) - Between Jonathan Vilma's latest knee surgery and Curtis Lofton's mysterious absence late last week, it's hard to know who might see the most work at inside linebacker in the Saints' new defensive scheme.

Good thing for New Orleans that it appears to have solid depth in that area.

Roman Humber and David Hawthorne demonstrated that in Friday night's preseason game against Oakland.

``Both those guys played well,'' Saints coach Sean Payton said. ``With the snaps that they're getting, the reps they're getting - we just finished talking about this a little bit - going into the start of the season, we just have to continue to develop and train and be ready to play.

``Knowing how the season unfolds, all of these guys end up in roles that are significant. We just don't know which game,'' Payton added. ``Hopefully you stay as healthy as possible, but with the roster size that it is and the length of the season, that's pretty normal.''

Humber, a fifth-year pro who was undrafted out of North Dakota State, filled in for Lofton at strong-side middle linebacker and was credited with nine tackles, including a sack and a stop on fourth-and-short.

Hawthorne, in his sixth season, had three tackles while playing Vilma's weakside spot.

They manned the middle of a unit that allowed 130 yards, one offensive touchdown and sacked Raiders starter Matt Flynn in the first half, after which mostly reserves came in.

Lofton, who has a history of back problems, returned to practice Monday but declined to discuss why he did not play Friday. He said he sees inside linebacker as one of the strengths of New Orleans' defense.

He was not surprised by the showing of Humber and Hawthorne, whom he's seen working extra in the film room and after practice. They've been sure to ask as many questions as it takes to nail down their assignments. Lofton also said their maturity is helping them cope better with the speed of the game.

``We're all in our prime,'' Lofton said. ``Football has got to slow down. It slowed down for me and it's starting to slow down for those guys. You can see that in how they played this past week.''

The 28-year-old Hawthorne started 10 games last season, but was hampered by left knee and right hamstring injuries and has said he is eager to show he can provide more support to his unit than he did a year ago.

Humber, who started his career in Indianapolis in 2009 and played against New Orleans in the Super Bowl, joined the Saints in 2010 and has seen much of his work on special teams.

``This year is different,'' Humber said. ``I think this year I came in a little hungrier and little more focused. I'm really just focused on being all I can be out on the field and not just being known as a special teams player.''

Humber said he feels comfortable playing either inside linebacker spot. That means he, too, could be a candidate to fill in on the weak side should Vilma's rehabilitation from arthroscopic surgery on his left knee not be complete when the regular season opens Sept 8.

``Anywhere they need me, I'll play,'' Humber said. ``It doesn't really matter to me, just as long as I get the opportunity to play.''

For now, though, Hawthorne is working as the starter in Vilma's spot, and it is not at all clear when Vilma, who has had recurring left knee problems the past two seasons, will be back.

When Payton was asked if he could estimate a timeline for Vilma's return, he responded, ``No,'' and abruptly walked away from reporters.

---

AP NFL website: http://www.pro32.ap.org/poll

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Aldon SmithApr 17 09:32p

The San Francisco 49ers do not plan on releasing LB Aldon Smith this offseason. Smith is expected to be suspended at the beginning of the season, but the length [ More ]

Chris JohnsonApr 17 08:52p

New York Jets RB Chris Johnson (knee) said he expects to receive medical clearance to resume football activities in the near future. He underwent knee surgery in January but [ More ]

Sebastian VollmerApr 17 08:42p

New England Patriots OG Logan Mankins said OT Sebastian Vollmer (leg) has looked good this offseason while he recovers from the broken leg he suffered during the 2013 season.

Chris SneeApr 17 07:32p

New York Giants OG Chris Snee (hip, elbow) is expected to participate when offseason workouts begin next week even though he is not 100 percent.

Rolando McClainApr 17 06:02p

The Baltimore Ravens reinstated LB Rolando McClain from the reserve/retired list Thursday, April 17.

Russell AllenApr 17 05:02p

The Jacksonville Jaguars released LB Russell Allen, WR Jabin Sambrano and DEs Will Pericak and D'Aundre Reed Thursday, April 17.

Chad JohnsonApr 17 02:22p

Free-agent WR Chad Johnson (Patriots) signed with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League Thursday, April 17.

Brian CushingApr 17 01:32p

Houston Texans LB Brian Cushing (knee) was medically cleared Thursday, April 17.

LaMichael JamesApr 17 10:04a

According to a league source, the San Francisco 49ers have been shopping RB LaMichael James. He finds himself behind RBs Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter and perhaps Marcus Lattimore on [ More ]

Mike BrownApr 16 11:33p

Jacksonville Jaguars WR Mike Brown signed his exclusive-rights free agent deal Wednesday, April 16.

Eli ManningApr 16 11:33p

Former New York Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said in a radio interview this week that it is 'ludicrous' to say QB Eli Manning is declining. 'There's been no [ More ]

Sidney RiceApr 16 08:03p

The Seattle Seahawks are re-signing WR Sidney Rice to an undisclosed one-year deal Wednesday, April 16, according to sources.

Dwayne BoweApr 16 07:03p

Kansas City Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe pleaded guilty Wednesday, April 16, after being arrested last November for marijuana possession. He pleaded guilty to lesser charges of littering and defective [ More ]

Arian FosterApr 16 04:53p

The Houston Texans may consider selecting a running back during the middle rounds of the 2014 NFL Draft that could become RB Arian Foster's backup in the future.

Chris JohnsonApr 16 04:43p

The New York Jets signed RB Chris Johnson to a two-year deal worth $8 million, with another $1 million in incentives available.

Terrelle PryorApr 16 04:33p

The Oakland Raiders hope to trade QB Terrelle Pryor before the start of the offseason program Monday, April 21.

Clay MatthewsApr 16 04:13p

Green Bay Packers LB Clay Matthews (thumb) said he likely will be limited during offseason workouts because of his surgically repaired thumb.

Chris JohnsonApr 16 03:53p

The New York Jets will use RBs Chris Johnson and Chris Ivory as a tandem this upcoming season and have them split carries. RB Bilal Powell will be the team's No. 3 running back.

Dan SkutaApr 16 03:33p

San Francisco 49ers LB Dan Skuta (foot) is not expected to need surgery on the foot injury that bothered him during the 2013 season. Skuta met with a foot [ More ]

Gus BradleyApr 16 02:53p

Jacksonville Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley watched Georgia QB Aaron Murray participate in his pro day Wednesday, April 16.

Reggie BushApr 16 02:13p

Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi said RBs Reggie Bush and Joique Bell likely will receive similar workloads this upcoming season than they did during the 2013 season. Bush [ More ]

Cheta OzougwuApr 16 01:53p

The Chicago Bears have waived DE Cheta Ozougwu.

Mike JamesApr 16 12:53p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Mike James (ankle) said he is happy with the progress he has made in his recovery from an ankle injury and that he has been [ More ]

Carson PalmerApr 16 12:43p

Arizona Cardinals QB Carson Palmer said he would understand if the team selects a quarterback during the 2014 NFL Draft, because he knows the team has to think about [ More ]

Josh FreemanApr 16 12:23p

The New York Giants have agreed to terms with free-agent QB Josh Freeman (Vikings). Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Rolando McClainApr 16 12:13p

Updating previous reports, retired LB Rolando McClain failed his conditioning tests during his workout with the Baltimore Ravens. The test consisted of six timed 150-yard runs.

Golden TateApr 16 10:53a

Detroit Lions WR Golden Tate said he thinks he can be a 'more explosive Lance Moore,' referring to the former New Orleans Saints receiver. Moore caught 65 passes for [ More ]

Matt FlynnApr 16 10:01a

Green Bay Packers QB Matt Flynn is expected to compete with QB Scott Tolzien for the backup quarterback job, but head coach Mike McCarthy anticipates keeping three QBs on [ More ]

Rolando McClainApr 16 12:03a

Retired LB Rolando McClain (Ravens) worked out for the Baltimore Ravens Tuesday, April 15, as he attempts a comeback. The workout wasn't a smooth one in terms of conditioning, [ More ]

Chris JohnsonApr 16 12:03a

The New York Jets are sticking to their budget/value system. While they want free-agent RB Chris Johnson (Titans), they will not 'overpay' for him. The depressed running back market [ More ]

Aldon SmithApr 16 12:03a

San Francisco 49ers LB Aldon Smith hasn't only lost the benefit of the doubt with the team, but he probably won't play with the team in 2014, according to [ More ]

Malcom FloydApr 15 11:53p

San Diego Chargers WR Malcom Floyd (neck) continues his rehab from a neck injury, but his status is still uncertain. When the team begins voluntary workouts April 22, Floyd [ More ]

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group