The Saints defensive line got noticeably bigger this offseason with the signing of defensive tackles Aubrayo Franklin and Shaun Rogers.
Saints Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams doesn’t know for sure how the new Saints defenders are going to turn out, but he knows one thing.
"We're going to look different getting off the bus," said Williams.
With Franklin (6-1, 317 pounds) and Rogers (6-4, 350 pounds) the Saints certainly beefed up their defensive line.
“It’s rare, but this might be the first time my weight is not the focus and some other big guys are,” joked fellow defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis, who stands at six-foot-one, 307 pounds
Franklin and Rogers join an already strong core of defensive linemen that includes veterans Alex Brown, Jeff Charleston, Ellis and Will Smith
Williams stressed that just because their new acquisitions have beefed up the defensive line it doesn’t mean they have filled their needs - yet.
“We have to get those bigger people to play with the same tenacity that our smaller people have played with in the past,” said Williams. “Now these new, bigger, faster players are going to have to play our way. They’re going to have to buy into what we’re doing and I have no qualms or questions that they will.”
In 10 NFL seasons, Rogers has started 124 of 140 games, while recording 391 tackles, 38 sacks, one interception, 24 pass defenses, four forced fumbles and eight fumble recoveries. He has been named to the Pro Bowl three times.
Franklin, an eight-year veteran defensive tackle, spent the last four seasons as an integral part of the defensive line for the San Francisco 49ers. He anchored the middle of the 49ers defense and has garnered 312 tackles since 2007.
Franklin said having Ellis and Rogers already in the fold at defensive tackle didn’t deter him from singing with the Saints. In fact, the newly acquired Saint said the thought of being part of the talented interior trio encouraged him to head to New Orleans.
“I think that with the (defensive tackles) that we have, all of us bring something different to the table,” said Franklin. “If we all go out there and go hard, we can be one of the most dominant defensive lines in this league.”
Head Coach Sean Payton echoed Franklin’s assessment that each defensive tackle will bring a unique skillset.
“With any good front, you never see the tackles playing 60 snaps,” said Payton. “With Rogers, I see a guy who can play nose tackle and the three. Sedrick Ellis is a guy that can play the three and nose tackle. Aubrayo is a guy that plays nose tackle. I see those guys handling a ton of work inside. Those are plenty of snaps.”
When Rogers signed with the Saints, he pointed out how the play calling and the way that the Saints rotate their defensive players made it enticing for him to join the squad. The 10-year NFL veteran said the “sky is the limit” for newly assembled defensive line can do.
“Everyone knows Gregg Williams is a talented guy when it comes to scheming defenses and focusing on making big plays,” said Rogers. “I am encouraged to be in a system with such a respected coordinator. With the guys we have now, it’s going to be fun to see how it plays out.”