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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Forget the past, Saints rolling out brand new defense vs. Vikings

By Matthew Coller

The New Orleans Saints’ defense is not who you thought they were.

Over the past three years, the Saints have been historically bad on defense, ranking 28th, 32nd and 31st in points allowed. Last season, New Orleans gave up a 98.1 passer rating against, the fourth worst in the NFL and allowed the fourth most rushing touchdowns.

Based on recent history, you couldn’t ask for a better Week 1 matchup for the revamped Minnesota Vikings offense.

Obviously they have a new group of guys, so you go back and watch last year’s tape and you realize there’s going to be some difference faces out there,” Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford said. “But regardless of who you’re playing, it always seems like in the opener, your preparation is a little bit tricky because you’re not really sure what they’re going to do. You’re not really sure if what they showed in the preseason is what they’re going to come out and play.”

The Saints have spent the last three drafts searching for talent that can turn around their defensive fortunes, spending 14 of 21 total draft picks on defensive players.

This year’s first-round pick cornerback Marshon Lattimore highlights a group of recent selections that will play significant roles against the Vikings that includes last season’s top pick 2015 first-round LB Stephane Anthony, 2016 first-round DT Sheldon Rankins, 2016 second-round pick safety Vonn Bell, 2017 third-round LB Alex Anzalone and 2015 third-round pick corner PJ Williams.

“This will be a team where we have a handful of young players that will quickly have to get up to speed with the speed of the game and the difference between preseason football and regular season,” Saints head coach Sean Peyton said via conference call. “There were a lot of things to be encouraged about coming off the training camp and our first real test starts this Monday night.”

The Saints also made a push in free agency to change their defensive fortunes by signing former Arizona Cardinal DE Alex Okafor and ex-Chargers linebacker Manti Te’o.

“They’ve got a lot of new guys,” Zimmer said. “They are talented, they’ve got I think I counted five or six of the first rounders with their group. That’s the unknown about a first game, you never know, really. I have seen some change from last year to this year in the preseason on some of the things they’re doing defensively. So yeah, it can present a problem.”

2016 New Orleans defense vs. 2017

2016 defense 2017 defense
DE Kasim Edebali Alex Okafor
DE Jordan Cameron Jordan Cameron
DT Nick Fairley Sheldon Rankins
DT Tyeler Davidson Tyeler Davidson
LB Stephone Anthony
Stephone Anthony
LB James Lauranitis Craig Robertson
LB Dannell Ellerbe Alex Anzalone
CB Delvin Breaux Ken Crawley
CB PJ Williams PJ Williams
S Jarius Byrd Vonn Bell
S Kenny Vaccaro Kenny Vaccaro

The post Forget the past, Saints rolling out brand new defense vs. Vikings appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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