Saints Rookie Rundown: It's Always Better When You're Winning!

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport

The New Orleans Saints are enjoying a high level of success in 2013. Is the rookie class doing it's part? Or are these guys just lucky the Saints picked them in the draft? Check out the latest installment of the Rookie Rundown!

Hello Who Dat Nation, welcome back to the Rookie Run-Down! The New Orleans Saints are sitting pretty at 9-2 with a 1 game lead over Carolina in the division and inside track for the No. 2 seed in the NFC. In the midst of the team’s success, the 2013 rookie draft class is proving to be solid from top to bottom with a present surprise in the form of wide receiver Kenny Stills. A couple of picks are still awaiting their first opportunity to play, while a couple others are establishing themselves as impact players for the future. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the rookie update.

Kenny Vaccaro, S

The Hitman is continuing to live up to his reputation as he delivers strong tackles week after week. Unfortunately, his tenacity has led him to being diagnosed with two concussions and one week on the inactive list only halfway through his rookie year. While Saints fans appreciate his eagerness to be the enforcer that we’ve been lacking the last couple of seasons, we would all like to see him be that person for many years to come.

Week 9-11 Performance: Vaccaro has demonstrated his worth week after week with solid all around performances. Against the New York Jets, Vaccaro played his part by contributing his usual handful of tackles and 1 pass defended. In that game, the entire defense was liable in allowing Chris Ivory to run wild and Vaccaro can share some blame in that. Against the Dallas Cowboys, Vaccaro was strong in run support and coverage, but left the game early due to a concussion sustained while making a tackle on tight end Jason Witten. He finished the Day with 3 solo tackles. After being ruled out early in the week for the game versus the San Francisco 49ers and some social media waffling, Vaccaro was inactive at kickoff. In his return against the Atlanta Falcons, Vaccaro stormed back into action with 9 total tackles and a defended pass.

Vaccaro’s season totals: In 10 games – 42 solo tackles, 12 assisted, 54 total, 1 sack, 7 passes defended, & 1 interception

Terron Armstead, OT

All quite on the Armstead front.

Week 9-11 Performance: Inactive/DNP Week 12: Active - 3 Special Teams Snaps

Johnathan Jenkins, NT

The return of Broderick Bunkley from an early season injury has reduced Jenkins’ snap total, but it may be a blessing in disguise. The Saints have the opportunity to finish the season with two relatively fresh nose tackles. If Bunkley is able to stay healthy, he and Jenkins will provide a nice rotation at the NT position that will pay dividends during the playoff push.

Week 9-11 Performance: Since the start of the regular season, it has been clear that Jenkins would not be a stat sheet stuffer, so in spite of limited snaps; he has still produced at a reasonable clip. In his four games since returning from injury, Bunkley has accumulated an average of two tackles per game, which is about what Jenkins contributed during his starts, so no drop off when the rookie is called upon. Against the Jets, Jenkins did not record any stats, but rebounded with one tackle versus Dallas and another against San Francisco. Jenkins did not record any stats against Atlanta.

Jenkins’ season totals: 9 solo tackles, 4 assisted and 13 total

Kenny Stills, WR

Where do you start with Mr. Stills? After 10 games, the Saints have been able to reap great value from the fifth round selection. For a simple comparison, because he is essentially replacing the injured Joseph Morgan, Stills has surpassed the speedster’s numbers in less time. With the exception of two games (Arizona & Chicago), Stills has recorded a catch. The underlying statement here: The rookie is getting his opportunities, so much for the ‘Payton Red-shirt Rule’. Stills hasn’t quite had an off the charts breakout game like I predicted, but he has manufactured a 3 catch, 129 yard, 2 TD performance. Can’t complain about production!

Week 9-11 Performance: Up until last Sunday’s showdown with the 49ers, Stills was consistently providing 2-3 catches per game for about 35 yards with a score every other game. Against the Jets, he caught 3 passes for 35 yards but no scores. When the Cowboys came to town a week later, Stills had 3 catches for 75 yards, including a 52 yard bomb from Drew Brees while splitting two defenders and concentrating for the catch. Unfortunately Stills fell silent against the 49ers and only came up with one catch for 11 yards, though he made a great effort to try to corral a low pass in the end zone late in the game. I see so much big play potential in Stills, but I hope he isn’t a one trick pony going forward.

Stills’ 2013 totals: 22 catches, 470 yards, 4 TD

Rufus Johnson, LB

Strong linebacker play will keep Johnson on the practice squad. The elevation of Victor Butler’s status more than likely means that even a deep playoff/ Super Bowl run won’t give Johnson an opportunity for any snaps this season. As long as he continues to develop (I’m looking at you Joe Vitt), he will get his shot next season.

Week 9-11 Performance: Practice Squad, DNP

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