White Sulphur Springs, W. Va. – It's not always obvious when Cam Jordan is being serious or playful, such is the sense of humor possessed by the New Orleans Saints' fifth-year defensive end.
But when he says that he'll get back to you after nine or 10 practices in order to better explain his new responsibilities, well, you just know the former Cal player isn't totally being honest.
The Saints are expecting big things from Jordan this season, and plan to employ him in different ways in order to put him in optimal positions to create those big plays. The practice reps and work he's doing at The Greenbrier are the next phase in the fine-tuning of his skills and his preparation for the season.
"He'll play some end, what we call the 'Jack' linebacker position," Coach Sean Payton said. "We felt like some of his best production has come when we're in sub (packages), (when) he's an outside player.
"His versatility is a plus. I see him as a guy that can play that end position for us."
"We went to OTAs and I was flexing out of that position," Jordan said. "Playing the 'Jack' is something that's going to be new to me but at the same time, it's a lot of similarities to what we've been doing. It's not like it's going to be too much of a change for me. I'm looking forward to this next challenge."
Jordan joins his teammates in looking forward to erasing the memory of last season. It wasn't the level of team success he hoped for (7-9 record), and it wasn't what was expected of him individually (65 tackles, 7.5 sacks, an interception, five passes defensed and a fumble recovery) – not after the team (11-5 record) and player (66 tackles, 12.5 sacks, four passes defensed, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries and a Pro Bowl appearance) were so successful in 2013.
So, playing the 'Jack' may help the team and player field a winning hand.
"Being the outside guy, you have to set that edge," Jordan said. "You now worry about outside-in, instead of inside-out.
"Prior years, I've had to flex out and set the edge, keep the edge safe. Going from there, it' s something that I've been used to doing. I feel comfortable across the whole line.
"It's starting to feel a little more Cam-friendly, for sure, that I don't have to deal with a guard and a tackle on the inside. Now, I'm just dealing with a tackle and a tight end. We're gearing for the best way to have our defense impose our will on the next team."
If there's any level of imposition, Jordan surely is going to have a hand in hit. He's equally adept playing in a 3-4 or 4-3 defense, minimizing (or perhaps eliminating) any need to take him off the field other than to rest.
Even with a significant personnel change on the defensive line – tackle Brodrick Bunkley was released, and Kevin Williams was signed during the offseason – Jordan, who signed a five-year deal with the Saints in June, is expected to play to a high level.
"The idea is to be the most efficient you can be," he said.
For the Saints, part of that will be using him in a different way, expecting to get a high level of production from a new 'Jack.'
Photos from Saints Training Camp presented by Verizon on Friday, July 31, 2015. Photos by Richard Crank (New Orleans Saints photos)