The New Orleans Saints defense is missing critical veterans such as Will Smith thanks to injury this season.
No problem—Rob Ryan has the Saints’ defense playing at a special level.
Mike Triplett has a list of the players the Saints are missing:
The Saints lost three projected starters to season-ending injuries this summer – outside linebackers Smith and Victor Butler and end Kenyon Coleman. Then inside linebacker Vilma was placed on short-term injured reserve after he had minor knee surgery in training camp (he could return at midseason). And in recent weeks, safety Harper and tackle Brodrick Bunkley have been sidelined by injuries, and nickel cornerback Patrick Robinson suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 2.
No issues for the Saints despite having young guys replace the injured vets. Despite fielding the worst statistical defensive unit in NFL history a year ago, a new coordinator and special talents such as rookie safety Kenny Vaccaro have allowed the Saints to field an outstanding defense.
Guys like Junior Galette have responded well to a scheme change and have allowed the losses of the veterans to not have an impact. Vaccaro is leading the way as the most talented youngster, but the quality overall across the board gives hope that the defense in New Orleans can play just well enough to give the Saints a Super Bowl caliber squad.
So far, Vaccaro and Co. are playing to that level.
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