NFC Championship: Saints troubles in the trenches
By Tony Twillie
The defensive line
On our other line, there’s only one injury but it’s a big one. Sheldon Rankins was having a tremendous season. He had become all that was expected when we took him in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Against the run, he was becoming that guy who could eat up a blocker or two to keep the linebackers clean to make plays. Against the pass, he was collapsing the interior of the pocket. QBs love to step up in the pocket. Rankins made that hardly possible with his play. To say he will be missed is an understatement.
But I’m going to put hope in the minds of Saints fans. That injury to Rankins occurred in the first quarter. From the second quarter until the end of the game, the Saints defense gave up zero points and less than 100 yards of offense. Without Rankins. Rankins was a difference maker, but he was one of a rotation of four guys. The other three have also been playing at a high level this season, and there’s no reason to think that won’t continue.
As an insurance policy, the Saints picked up Tyrunn Walker, a former Saint and Louisiana native to fill in if necessary. It remains to be seen if Walker is part of the rotation, or if he goes in to give guys a quick break. It’s positive to see the Saints picked up someone familiar with the system.
This game might be won by a play or two overall. But the REAL game will be played in the trenches. And hopefully our banged up units will be ready to go come Sunday.