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Hunt for consistency is in motion for New Orleans Saints defensive end Carl Granderson

'I expect my production to start off hot and in the middle keep it going, then toward the end crank it up even more'


For a dominant stretch – seven seasons out of eight – there'd been a constant and consistent sack leader for the New Orleans Saints: Cam Jordan.

The defensive end ascended to the top spot in franchise history with that work, accumulating 117.5 career sacks as he enters his 14th NFL season.

But last year, the name atop the list was defensive end Carl Granderson, who totaled a career-high 8.5 sacks in his fifth season, accounting for 37 percent of his 23 career sacks. And there were more out there for Granderson, who hopes to add them to his ledger this year.

Granderson figures if he can add consistency to his game, instead of a solid start and end and so-so middle, he can reach the plateau he seeks.

"It's always good to start off strong, but looking back at last year, it got rocky in the middle," he said after Tuesday's OTA practice. "For me, it's maintaining and being consistent, and the numbers will come.

"The middle of the season for me was kind of like you hit a wall, and then you turn it up when it's too late. So moving forward to this season, I expect my production to start off hot and in the middle keep it going, and then toward the end crank it up even more."

Here's what he means: He had 4.5 sacks, nine quarterback hits and seven tackles for loss in the first six games; one sack, seven quarterback hits and three tackles for loss in the next six games; and three sacks, four quarterback hits and four tackles for loss in the last five games.

Still, it was a significant jump in production from 2022 (5.5 sacks and nine quarterback hits), which had been his best pro season.

"One of the players asked me today, 'What's the next step for me?' " Saints Coach Dennis Allen said. "I don't think we need to focus so much on what's the next step. It's just continuing through the process, and if you continue through the process, and do the things that we're asking you to do, just by the nature of that work you're going to improve.

"So I think really for Carl, it's just keep coming out here and keep working on your craft and keep doing all the things that allowed you to have a jump in production. It was because of the way you worked, it was because of the way you practiced, it was because of the way you (handled meetings). I think that's where the focus is and I think if he does that, through experience, naturally he's going to get better."

Granderson, listed at 243 pounds in his final season at Wyoming, bulked to a listed 261 pounds for the Saints last season. The gain in weight, strength and knowledge was significant in his first year as a full-time NFL starter.

"Overall, just getting smarter as a player in the offseason, watching film and just breaking down my game and understanding plays," he said. "That helped going into the season. And what also helped me was my teammates.

"A lot of my sacks came from effort, and the guys around me. Coach put me in the best position to make big plays, so I just worked my butt off and kept going. I should have gotten more than eight-and-a-half, but it's God's plan. I'm looking forward to a big year this year.

"You've just got to focus on your craft, that's the main thing. Just focus on getting better in the offseason, working on what you have to work on during the offseason. You can't pay attention to (increased attention from opponents).

"They're going to send a double team, they're going to do what they've got to do but if you've got other guys on the D-line to back you up, they can't double you. Everybody is going to go hunt. So looking forward to this season, I'm ready and we've got a good group of guys. We're hungry, we're out there in the heat and we're preparing for the season now."

New Orleans Saints players participated in the team's 2024 OTA practices on May 28, 2024 at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center.

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