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Carl Granderson prepared to step up at defensive end for New Orleans Saints

'I feel like the opportunities will always be there'


Carl Granderson isn't making any sweeping assumptions.

The New Orleans Saints' third-year defensive end full well knows and understands the void created when Trey Hendrickson, who led the Saints with a career high 13.5 sacks last season, signed with Cincinnati as an unrestricted free agent.

Left defensive end is home to Cameron Jordan, who has 94.5 career sacks in his 10 NFL seasons, 93.5 in the last nine. Hendrickson flourished on the right side, in part due to the limited availability of Marcus Davenport and to the fact that Hendrickson, who was in his fourth season as a Saint, was healthy and ready to take advantage of the opportunity.

Davenport is back this season, the Saints drafted defensive end Payton Turner in the first round and they added Tanoh Kpassagnon as a free agent. So Granderson understands that snaps aren't a given along the Saints' defensive line.

That's why, after posting five sacks, two forced fumbles, nine quarterback hits and three tackles for loss in just 291 snaps over 15 games last year, he's is working like the undrafted rookie that he was in 2019.

"I feel like the opportunities will always be there," Granderson said. "Going into camp, just got to take advantage of my opportunities. But first off, I want to say that as a team, I want to contribute as much as I can and do whatever the coaches want me to do. The opportunities will be there for everyone that's showing up to camp."

In that vein, Granderson became a valuable special team contributor for New Orleans in his first two seasons, a 6-foot-5, 261-pounder who can impose his will on that unit.

The work this offseason for Granderson has included trying to position himself to be better able to impose his will.

"I need to just get stronger this offseason," he said. "Once I get stronger, I feel like everything I did last season will improve. So just get stronger in the weight room so I can apply that to the field. And getting smarter. Continue watching film every day, seeing what I can do better from last season."

In Granderson's training, he said he specifically wants to get stronger in his lower body, which will assist in his "get off" on snaps. "I've been doing a lot of offseason work with D-line videos, just position drills, working on my hand movement and trying to stay light, getting ready for training camp."

But one of the biggest pluses, over last year, is that he has been able to get in-person work with teammates and coaches.

"It's really beneficial," he said. "This year vs. last year, everything was on Zoom. Some people are better visual learners. Going into the meeting rooms, being around the guys, that's pretty big because it's building a connection to start going into camp. It's been good to work out with some of the guys and compete and just being around my teammates."


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