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Biggest sleeper on Saints defense is an injury question mark

He’s been riddled with injuries his entire football career.

New Orleans Saints v Carolina Panthers Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

The New Orleans Saints defense has steadily improved over the years, due in no large part to key contributors like Demario Davis, Cam Jordan, and Marshon Lattimore. Other key contributors help round out the defense, with names like Sheldon Rankins, Marcus Williams, and AJ Klein have been solid, if unspectacular, pieces around them.

To make the jump from “good” to “great” defenses, it usually takes one of those solid-but-unspectacular pieces taking a leap into Pro Bowl territory. For the 2020 Saints defense, linebacker Alex Anzalone could very well be that key piece that helps determine the fate of the defense.

NFL: SEP 09 Texans at Saints Photo by Stephen Lew/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

That’s why Bleacher Report named Anzalone as the biggest sleeper for the 2020 Saints heading into training camp:

A year ago, it looked like New Orleans Saints linebacker Alex Anzalone was becoming a strong starter, if not a star. The 2017 third-round pick started just seven games as a sophomore, but he still compiled 59 tackles, six quarterback hits and three forced fumbles.

But then a shoulder injury cost Anzalone all but two games of his 2019 campaign, and he was essentially replaced by Kiko Alonso. But while Alonso is now recovering from a torn ACL, Anzalone is healthy. A lot of the attention in that linebacker corps has shifted with highly touted rookie Zack Baun joining the fray, but he could need some time to adjust to the pro game after a unique offseason. Plus, veteran linebacker A.J. Klein moved on in free agency.

So while it’s easy to forget about Anzalone following his derailed season—which might have been overshadowed anyway by Demario Davis’ All-Pro showing—the Florida product could wind up playing a massive role.

If you want to see the different ways Anzalone could contribute to the Saints defense, make sure you check out this great analysis from CSC’s own Andrew Bell. And if you want to get a great view of Anzalone the man, not just Anzalone the football player, check out our fun interview with him earlier this year.

What do you think Anzalone’s 2020 will look like? Let us know in the comments. Make sure you follow Canal Street Chronicles on Twitter at @SaintsCSC, “Like” us on Facebook at Canal Street Chronicles, and make sure you’re subscribed to our new YouTube channel. As always, you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisDunnells.