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Evans, Vilma Ranked in the Top 40 of NFL Network's "Top 100 Players of 2011"

Posted Jun 12, 2011

Saints OL and LB are two of five Saints on the list

OL Jahri Evans and LB Jonathan Vilma placed in the top 37 of the NFL Network’s “The Top 100: Players of 2011.” Vilma came in at No. 37 and Evans appeared at No. 34.

Vilma was presented by QB Drew Brees and Evans was showcased by Head Coach Sean Payton on the show Sunday night.

WR Marques Colston and OL Carl Nicks already appeared on the list, coming in at No. 53 and No. 55, respectfully. Brees is the final Saints player that will appear on the list.

Vilma was elected by teammates as one of five team captains last season. He started all 16 regular season games and NFC Wild Card Playoff game at Seattle. He led the defense with tackles for the third straight year with 131 (69 solo), adding a career-high four sacks, one interception, four passes defensed, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery on his way to being named to the Pro Bowl for the second-straight season and third time of his career.

Since 2009, Evans has enjoyed two of the most decorated seasons for a Saints offensive lineman. He’s been voted to the last two Pro Bowls as a starter, was a 2009 and 2010 first-team All-Pro and is widely regarded as among the NFL’s top linemen

Last season, Evans started all 16 regular games for the fifth consecutive season and opened one playoff contest. He has started every game since being drafted, now having opened 80-consecutive contests – the most for a Saints offensive linemen to begin his career and the second-most by a Saint overall. He is part of one of only two offensive lines in the NFL to start all 16 regular season games.

Additional video content on the “Top 100 Players” series can be found at www.NFL.com/Top100.

Quotes from Brees on Vilma:
 “The attack-style defense that we run requires a very intelligent guy at (middle linebacker) who can make a lot of checks, quick decisions on the run and improvise a little bit at times, but in the end be responsible for a lot of things. Vilma is the perfect guy for that.”

“He left the (New York Jets) with a little bit of animosity just from the standpoint of somebody is getting rid of you because they feel like you can’t help them anymore or you are not good enough anymore. It puts a chip on your shoulder.”

“He is a guy who is kind of undersized for the middle linebacker position. He plays like he always has something to prove. He has had to fight the critics through his career.”

“I think I saw a marked difference in our defense immediately because of his leadership, intensity and competitiveness.”

“He is the one who makes practices fun. He makes a lot of the calls and it becomes sort of a chess match.”

“We are both trying to fool each other at times. We try to get in each other’s heads a little bit but in the end we are both trying to win.”

“When I was in San Diego and he was with the Jets, he was certainly a guy I had a lot respect for. It is funny how things work out. The fact that we would playing on the same team together and it would be a different team than the ones we were on at the time. There are not many guys you will be meet that work more than him. That makes it fun.”

Quotes from Coach Payton on Evans:
“If you had to list five traits at the guard position, he would have those traits. He has strong hands, he is powerful, his size, he is athletic and he is intelligent.”

“He came from a small college – Bloomsburg. He went to school on an academic scholarship so he is very bright and a quick study. The challenge when you evaluate a smaller college offensive lineman is often times the film isn’t as good and certainly the competition isn’t the same. Every game we watched, he thoroughly dominated the player over him.”

“Certainly there was a learning curve from college to the NFL but a guy with his intelligence and skill set, we knew it was going to be sooner rather than later. Sure enough, he started for us his rookie year.”  

“Every week, a guy playing (right guard) is going to see some pretty good three-technique linemen, he has seen the best of them. He has fought and battled guys like (Kevin and Pat Williams) in Minnesota. Ultimately, when people want to measure you they want to see you play against real good competition and he has done very well.”

“When you meet and talk with Jahri off the field, his disposition and temperament is fairly quiet but on the field he is awfully competitive.”  

“I remember his first season he didn’t go to the Pro Bowl and he has gone the last two years. It’s very important to him. Since he has come in, he has never missed a game or a start. I believe he is one of the best if not the best right guard in football.”

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