July 27, 2012; Metairie, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints safety Roman Harper (41) during training camp at the team
New Orleans Saints safety Roman Harper found himself in a new role Sunday against the Green Bay Packers: linebacker. And if certain trends continue, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said that could happen more frequently.
In a press conference yesterday, Spagnuolo said that injuries at the linebacker position forced him to change the depth chart a bit. Harper was moved to the “Will” or weakside linebacker position in nickel packages with his backup safety Isa-Abdul Quddus coming in for him.
Spagnuolo brought up the point that Harper does well at the line of scrimmage and this stands pat from the 2011 season. He was used frequently by former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams to blitz at the line of scrimmage last season with much success.
With Jonathan Casillas(neck) and David Hawthorne(hamstring) back on the mend from injuries, Harper could continue to be utilized at linebacker if they need him to. To be honest, it’s no secret that Harper has wained the past several seasons at the safety position and considered a liability in pass coverage.
On the winning touchdown pass to San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis in the NFC Divisional Playoffs last year, Harper was the player victimized. Later, 49ers quarterback Alex Smith said that specific play was put into their offense especially for Harper when they were putting together their gameplan for the Saints.
While the experiments and tweaks continue with the Saints defense, this could be one that is beneficial to not only the Saints but to Harper and his continued future with the team.