Panic swept over New Orleans Saints nation Wednesday when it was announce free-agent acquisition and pass-rushing linebacker Victor Butler was out for the year with a torn ACL he suffered during OTAs after bumping knees with running back Mark Ingram.
With Butler out of the picture, the time is now for third-year linebacker Martez Wilson.
Wilson has flashed ability over the course of his first two years with the team, racking up four sacks in two years. For Wilson, the switch to a 3-4 scheme will mean a better opportunity to shine because in the old 4-3 he was only on the field in passing situations. Now that the Saints will have an extra linebacker on the field, Wilson will have a chance to see more snaps and use some of his freakish athleticism to get to the quarterback.
Wilson himself knows 2013 could be a big year, as he told the media when listing his lofty goals (via NOLA.com’s Nakia Hogan):
“My goal this year is at least 10-plus sacks, at least five-plus interceptions and all the other plays just let them come to me,” Wilson said after practice Tuesday before Butler’s torn anterior cruciate ligament became public. “My main goal though is just making big plays period.”
The goals are not all that outlandish. With Butler unfortunatley out of the picture, Wilson is the only legitimate threat to win the full-time gig at outside linebacker. He’s now the most experienced and talented overall. His being on the field for the majority of the snaps next season should allow him to put up nice statistics, but more importantly it should allow him to contribute in a positive manner in the new scheme as the team wins games.
Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan brought over Butler to act as a starter. Now that man is Wilson and Ryan is sure to get every ounce of production out of him.
Watch for Wilson to become a household name in 2013.