Free safety Darren Sharper is slated to start against the Pittsburgh Steelers in a pivotal prime time game tonight.
Sharper underwent micro-fracture knee surgery in the off-season landing him on the PUP list prior to the start of the regular season. He was reinstated to the active roster last week before the Cleveland Browns game.
Sharper will be replacing corner converted to safety Malcolm Jenkins because of a rash of injuries in the secondary and by all indications the Saints will enter the contest without the services of their two top corner’s.
Jabari Greer is listed as doubtful with a shoulder injury and a Tracy Porter is questionable while still recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery, his status however will remain a game time decision.
Given their injuries the Saints have decided to start Jenkins alongside rookie Patrick Robinson as their starting duo at corner clearing the path for Sharper to pick up where he left off at free safety a year ago.
Sharper’s presence is a welcome addition to a secondary that has played well this season but has not had the same success creating turnover’s as they did in 2009 when he co-lead the NFL with nine interceptions.
Likely to be tested early by the Steelers Sharper will be responsible for keeping speedy deep threat receiver Mike Wallace in check for most of the game if he is able to get past the initial coverage.
Wallace is averaging a league best 25.7 yards per reception this season and is quickly developing into one of the Steelers best offensive weapons.
Sharper was in for seventeen plays last week against the Browns but will see a considerable increase tonight in his playing time. How successful the Saints will be on defense will in large part depend on how well he plays overall.
Currently the Saints are the 25th worst team in the league in turn over ratio with -5 and hopefully Sharper can start to turn that around to the plus side.
After all the Saints are looking to bounce back after a shellacking by the Cleveland Browns in which they had five total turnovers while forcing none of their own.
New Orleans was held to just three points through three quarters behind Brees’ four interceptions and a win against Pittsburgh tonight is just the type of statement the team desperately needs to make to reaffirm them as a true Super Bowl contender.
Check out Keith Null’s weekly article about the Saints on NFL.com by clicking here.