The beginning of the 2017 regular season for the New Orleans Saints is just 53 days away. This year, the Saints start a bit later than most of the rest of the league, by opening their season with a Monday night road game against the Minnesota Vikings. Canal Street Chronicles continues our countdown to kickoff series; today with a look back at some of the Saints players that have worn the No. 53.
Vaughan Johnson (LB, 1986-1993)
The Saints originally selected Johnson with a 1st round pick in the 1984 supplemental draft, used at that time for NFL teams to secure the rights of talented players from the United States Football League (USFL) and Canadian Football League (CFL). The talented Johnson did play his first two professional seasons for the USFL's Jacksonville Bulls. He joined the Saints in 1986, as the rival spring league was folding.
The hard-hitting linebacker was a starter by his second year with the Saints, helping complete the fearsome group of New Orleans linebackers that came to be known as "The Dome Patrol". Johnson may not have had the flashy statistics of his counterparts Rickey Jackson, Pat Swilling, or Sam Mills, but he was one of the most feared hitters in the league. He was the team's leading tackler in 1987, '88, and '93 and among the squad's top leaders in every other year. His 12 career sacks, 5 fumble recoveries, and 4 interceptions as a Saint was not an accurate depiction of the impact that he had on the franchise itself.
Johnson was voted to 4 straight Pro Bowls from 1989-'92, and helped transform a perennial losing franchise into a yearly playoff contender. He left New Orleans after the 1993 season to play his final year with the Philadelphia Eagles. Vaughan Johnson was a unanimous selection to the franchise's 45th Anniversary team, and in 2000 was inducted into the Saints Hall of Fame.
Mark Simoneau (LB, 2006-2007)
Simoneau was acquired by the Saints in a 2006 trade with the Philadelphia Eagles in which New Orleans shipped wideout Donte' Stallworth to Philly in exchange for Simoneau and the Eagles 7th round draft pick (which the Saints used to select offensive lineman Jermon Bushrod). The veteran provided solid defensive leadership for a Saints team that shocked the league in 2006 with a push into the conference championship game. That continued into 2007, when he was second among the team's linebackers in tackles. Simoneau missed the 2008 season, then suffered a torn triceps muscle in training camp of 2009, causing him to miss the Saints Super Bowl championship year. He attempted a comeback with the Kansas City Chiefs the following year, but retired at midseason.
Ramon Humber (LB, 2012-2015)
Humber was actually signed by the Saints as a free agent late in the 2010 season, but wore No. 54 until switching to 53 in 2012. He'd spent his 2009 rookie season with the Colts, leading Indianapolis in special teams tackles that post-season. Humber was one of the players in the middle of the scramble during "Ambush", the Saints onside kick recovery to open the 2nd half of Super Bowl XLIV. He only started 14 games during his six seasons as a Saint, but saw action in 74 contests, primarily on special teams and in pass coverage packages. The only quarterback sacks Humber had in his career (3.5) came in a Saints uniform. He was released by the team in the offseason of 2016, and after a training camp stint with the New England Patriots was signed by the Buffalo Bills, where he will enter training camp in 2017.
Linebacker A.J. Klein will enter his first season wearing No. 53 for the New Orleans Saints in 2017. Klein played his first four seasons as a Carolina Panther, backing up one of the better linebackers in the game, Luke Kuechly. Now given the opportunity to start in a revamped New Orleans linebacking unit, Klein is expected to provide good pass coverage skills and an excellent football IQ to the Saints for the next number of seasons.
Other Saints players that have worn the No. 53: Dave Simmons (1967), Dick Absher (1969-71), Bill Hobbs (1972), Rick Kingrea (1973-78), Tommy Hart (1980), Scott Pelluer (1981-85), Keith Fourcade (1987), Don Davis (1996-98), Donta Jones (2000), Roger Knight (2001-04), T.J. Slaughter (2005), Stanley Arnoux (2010), Will Herring (2011-2013), James Laurinaitis (2016)
Who was your favorite Saints player to wear No. 53?
This poll is closed