As we count down the days to training camp, Around the League will examine one player from every team set for a breakout campaign in 2012. Next up: the New Orleans Saints.
Unsung hero Cam Jordan will get his due
Setting the edge doesn't get headlines. Neither does stopping the run. Those are the strengths that defensive end Cameron Jordan brought to the table when the Saints took him out of Cal late in the first round last year.
Jordan played right up to expectations. He started 15 games and was easily the best run-stuffer on a weak Saints defense. ProFootballFocus ranked Jordan as one of the 10 best run-stopping 4-3 defensive ends in the league. But Jordan was a total non-factor rushing the passer, and that's why he has received more criticism than praise for his rookie season.
Look for that to change in Year 2. Jordan is just the type of versatile defensive lineman that new Saints defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo loves. Look for him to go inside at defensive tackle plenty, ala Justin Tuck with the New York Giants.
"I am excited to get moved around from end to defensive tackle in different packages and this should give me an opportunity to get to the quarterback more," Jordan told Houma Today. "It was a learning curve for me and getting off of blockers quicker is key in this league. Last season, I think I did pretty well in stopping the run, but there is still work for me in that category also. I like the dual role position, and it gives me some freedom to get that pass rush not only from off the edge but also from the interior."
Jordan is a heady player who knows the game inside and out; his father Steve had a great career in the NFL. A full offseason should do him wonders.
The Saints' front seven has been a weakness for too long. But Jordan, free-agent pickup Brodrick Bunkley, and Sedrick Ellis (another former first-round pick) could make the group far more formidable if they live up to their potential.