Saints rookie linebacker Stephone Anthony showcasing talents like a veteran
The New Orleans Saints are taking a well-deserved break Tuesday with a week of training camps in the books. With a handful of players, both rookies and veterans, already making their presence felt out on the field, it has been first-year linebacker Stephone Anthony who has really been turning heads.
There’s no question players, coaches and fans are excited to see what the club’s second of two first-round picks (thanks to the Jimmy Graham trade) can bring to the table, and for good reason. Stephone Anthony has arguably been one of the top players at camp up to this point, all while doing so as a rookie.
Since Dannell Ellerbe was sidelined (returned to practice Monday), Anthony has been taking reps with the first team, making tackles behind the line and communicating as the play-caller on the defensive side of the ball.
His skill-set is undeniable, and his intelligence is superb, which head coach Sean Payton and defensive coordinator Rob Ryan have continued to praise over the past week in West Virginia, where training camp is being held at The Greenbrier resort. Of course, it is very early in the process, but the pads are on and Stephone Anthony continues to shine, looking to find himself in a starting role sooner rather than later.
Odds are looking good for Stephone Anthony — he’s one of the more intriguing players at camp. He has the size, speed (top performer at combine with a 4.56 40-yards dash), strength and pursuit to be a force in the middle and cover the field from sideline to sideline. He can play the run and the pass – both were areas of weakness in the Crescent City a season ago.
We could be looking at Anthony as the next play caller on the Saints defense in no time. But first he must fight an uphill battle on a new level of football against David Hawthorne, Dannell Ellerbe and Ramon Humber.
The Saints were initially criticized by a number of analysts after they decided to spend a first-round pick on Anthony. However, the former Clemson standout seems to be transitioning into the big leagues at an unimaginable pace. New Orleans gets back to work out on the practice field Wednesday, and their first preseason game is just over a week away (Thursday, Aug. 13 at Baltimore Ravens).
Of course, it is still too early to make premature predictions, but the team needs somebody to rise to the occasion in the absence of Curtis Lofton. We’ll see if the Stephone Anthony show continues, but the fans should certainly be excited to have a guy of this caliber playing for their organization.