This weekend, we began the 50-day countdown to the first regular season game for the New Orleans Saints. As we wait for news from training camp, let's get to know a little bit about those players who have signed on to bring home another Lombardi trophy.
One hundred days may have been a bit too long of a countdown, so we're also taking a look at player numbers 99 to 51 as we cover the countdown from 49 to 1. Not all of them will make the final 53-man roster, but the whoever is on the roster (and maybe some who aren't) when their numbers come due will at least get a blurb, to help our community become a bit more familiar with the players who have been suiting up in black and gold.
So, with no more ado:
48 DAYS UNTIL ATLANTA!!!
#48: Derrick Strozier (CB-turned-RB, Rookie)
Strozier is one of four players who earned a trip to the Saints training camp after attending the rookie minicamp in May on a tryout basis. Although he played primarily on defense at Tulane University -- three years as a cornerback, and running back for one in 2012 -- he requested to try out with the Saints as a running back.
The Orlando, FL, native did not perform very well as a running back in college, posting only 12 yards in four carries and adding 60 yards with 11 receptions. But he excelled at the rookie minicamp, impressing the coaching staff and earning a trip with the team to training camp in West Virginia this week. Saints head coach Sean Payton commended Strozier on his role (as a defender) in Tulane's success last year, and stated in May that the rookie showed himself to be smart and understanding of what the Saints are doing.
Strozier will likely first make his way onto a final roster as a special teams player, given his prior experience on defense, offense, and special teams. At Tulane, he brought back 28 punts for 268 yards and 13 kick returns for 258 yards. He also blocked a couple of field goal attempts, and returned another blocked field goal 62 yards for a touchdown. His five interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns, could also lend credence to his chances of contributing on both offense and special teams, if called upon.
#98 Parys Haralson (LB, Second Year as a Saint)
Drafted in the 6th round of the 2006 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers, Parys Haralson played for six seasons before being placed on injured reserve at the beginning of the 2012 season, due to a triceps tear. He was then traded to New Orleans in August 2013, after Victor Butler was injured, for a conditional seventh round pick in this past May's draft.
Haralson contributed significantly to Rob Ryan's impressive defense last year, appearing in all sixteen games as a rotational player and tallying 30 tackles (16 solo), 3.5 sacks, and one pass defensed. Despite being placed on injured reserve in January 2014, after suffering a torn pectoral in the Saints' wildcard playoff win over the Philadelphia Eagles, Parys was signed to another one-year deal with the Saints in April.
With Victor Butler healthy this season, Haralson will likely set the edge against the run as weak-side linebacker on early downs, and swap out with Butler when the Saints want a more dominant pass rusher opposite Junior Galette.
Contract: 1 year / $920,000