As we count down from 50 days until the New Orleans Saints begin their regular season in Atlanta on Sunday, September 7th, we're getting to know a little bit about those players who have signed on to bring home another Lombardi trophy.
Instead of drawing out the countdown over 100 days, we're looking 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 fans become a bit more familiar with the players who have been suiting up in black and gold.
So, with no more ado:
46 DAYS UNTIL ATLANTA!!!
#96: Uzo-Diribe, Chidera (OLB, Rookie)
Cousins with two-time Pro Bowler and Falcons DE Osi Umenyiora, Chidera Uzo-Diribe was another UDFA signed after this year's draft.
In 49 games at Colorado, he recorded 118 tackles (99 solo), 32 tackles for a loss, 20 sacks, 10 forced fumbles, and six passes defensed. As a senior, he started all 12 games at right defensive end and posted 46 tackles (36 solo), with 11 for a loss, including four sacks, while ranking second in the nation with five forced fumbles.
Chidera has displayed decent speed and good pad level throughout his college career, and a toughness which allowed him to play through a high ankle sprain during his junior year. His election as a senior team captain by his teammates is also indicative of leadership qualities. However, he may not have the strength to make it as a defender in the NFL. More importantly, he may not have the head for Rob Ryan's defense. And although it may not affect his performance as a professional football player, he also suffered a fractured toe which required surgery to insert a pin before his sophomore season.
Any player has a chance to surprise and shine during training camp. However, this rookie will have a tough time breaking into the lineup on what is expected to be a top NFL defense in 2014.
Former #96: Tom Johnson (DT, Minnesota Vikings)
Although the Indianapolis Colts signed UDFA Tom Johnson after the 2005 NFL Draft, he didn't play his first NFL regular season game for over six years. After the Colts released him at the end of his first training camp, Johnson had stints in NFL Europa, the Arena Football League and Canadian Football League before being signed for three years by the Saints in 2011.
During his three seasons in New Orleans, Johnson tallied 73 tackles (38 solo), five sacks, one pass defense and one fumble recovery. He was outshone by rookie Glenn Foster last year, and tallied the lowest production of his NFL career during the 2013 season.
After the Saints chose not to resign him, Johnson inked a one-year deal with the Minnesota Vikings in March. Assuming he's still on their roster on September 21, he will be back in the Superdome for the first Saints home game of the 2014 regular season.