If there’s any player on the New Orleans Saints roster who needs redemption from last season, it’s safety Kenny Vaccaro.
Many voiced their displeasure when the Saints used their 15th overall selection to nab the top safety prospect in the 2013 draft. However, Kenny Vaccaro was exactly what the Saints heading into that season, and was impressive from the very start. At the time, the Saints defense needed a smash-mouth player in their secondary who exhibited a lot of versatility, especially with question marks on the futures of Roman Harper and Malcolm Jenkins.
Vaccaro saw his fair share of reps, and instantly became a hero among Who Dat Nation from the 2013 season opener against the Atlanta Falcons. Week in and week out, we saw a player who just brought his “A” game. In all honesty, Vaccaro’s stellar play nearly phased out Roman Harper completely. As a result, it was an easy decision to part ways with Harper.
Unfortunately, 2014 didn’t see the same replication of success.
Vaccaro went being a freshman phenom to sophomore slump at a rapid pace. His play got to the point where head coach Sean Payton opted to bench Vaccaro. However, it was later revealed that Vaccaro played through several injuries last season: the lingering effects of his fractured ankle from late in the 2013 season that placed him on injured reserve, a grade 2 hamstring tear sustained in the first week against Atlanta, and a grade 2 quad tear in December.
Despite this, he still produced stats similar to his rookie season output.
So, what does 2015 hold for Kenny Vaccaro? For starters, I pencil him as the primary beneficiary from the addition of cornerback Brandon Browner. No, I haven’t lost my mind, as safety and cornerback are two totally opposite spots. However, this is the thought process. The addition of Browner gives the Saints a true cover corner to line up opposite of Keenan Lewis. Both will look to play a lot of press coverage. Vaccaro can focus on multiple roles without necessarily having to provide over the top safety help. Of course, I’m assuming Jairus Byrd is that help, and the slot/nickel corner (or additional safety) also provides coverage.
Vaccaro has noticeably bulked up during the offseason, and says that he feels great. Perhaps the most motivating thing for Vaccaro lies with the “bad taste” in his mouth from last year’s 7-9 season. Staying angry and hungry, coupled with some strong veteran presence of Brandon Browner and coach Dennis Allen, could make Vaccaro an extremely scary safety in 2015.
More from Who Dat Dish
- Saints 2022 Training Camp: Top 4 takeaways from Day 8
- Saints need to extend C.J. Gardner-Johnson ASAP
- Chris Herndon signing is low-risk, high-reward for NOLA Saints
- Saints News: Tyrann Mathieu return and Chris Herndon signing
- Saints Training Camp: Throwing punches won’t help Trevor Penning win the LT job