Alex Anzalone could be breakout star Saints defense desperately needs

(Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
(Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images) /

After missing the vast majority of last season, could this finally be the year Saints’ linebacker Alex Anzalone breaks out as a star for this defense?

The New Orleans Saints’ linebacking corps is really the only unit on the team that needs significant help. Outside of Demario Davis, this unit is full of injury-prone players and rookies, a mix that oftentimes doesn’t bode well for consistency.

However, they will have Kiko Alonso in the rotation as well.

Alonso started just four games, racking up just over 30 tackles. This was almost a fourth of what he totaled in 2018 playing and starting 15 games for the Dolphins. Alfonso wasn’t the player New Orleans thought they traded for.

That said, it’ll be rookie Zack Baun and Alex Anzalone expected to step up. A veteran, Anzalone suffered a season-ending shoulder injury early last season, playing in just two games and starting neither.

However, the buzz around the talented 6-foot-3 linebacker could be at an all-time high. The team’s linebacker coach made no mistake when talking about the sky-high ceiling for the defender entering his fourth season in the league.

“There is a potential that he hasn’t even come close to reaching, which is exciting. I’m confident that he’s going to be better than he’s ever been,” said Saints linebacker coach Michael Hodges said of Alex Anzalone to WWL Radio’s Steve Geller.

The team’s third-round pick in an uber-talented 2017 draft class, Anzalone has played over five games in just one of his three completed seasons. He needs to stay healthy this season. For the sake of his career, he must stay on the field.

When healthy, Anzalone is a solid outside linebacker and can help Davis control the edges while Baun and company lock down the middle of the field.

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That said, if the 25-year-old can elevate his game, he’ll hopefully snag that next contract, but if it’s another injury-prone season, he’ll have his foot halfway out the door as he’ll enter free agency in 2021.