First impression was that Kiko Alonso is a man of few words.
Perfectly understandable. The newest New Orleans Saints linebacker was acquired in a trade with the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. On Monday, surrounded by hordes of new faces, he possibly wasn’t as likely to bubble over with conversation – with people other than his new teammates – as anyone else would be given the same scenario.
Besides, the talking that the Saints are interested in will come on the field.
The six-year veteran joins a talented linebacker corps, which includes Demario Davis, Alex Anzalone, A.J. Klein and Craig Robertson – all players that Alonso said he has watched over the years.
“When I heard about the news of the trade coming here, there was nothing but excitement,” he said.
Alonso, who was acquired in exchange for linebacker Vince Biegel, said he can play all linebacker positions. New Orleans will have six more days to funnel him information before the season opener against Houston on Monday night in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
“My expectation, he comes in and competes,” Saints Coach Sean Payton said Monday. “It’ll be a transition and we’ll let that kind of sort itself out. We feel that group of players, we’ve got a lot of confidence in. The depth at that position has changed just a little bit.
“For us, it was really an opportunity to add a good football player to the roster. I think it’d be premature to try to anticipate how it unfolds, but we feel like he’s someone that, we’ve played against him. He’s a tremendous effort player – you see it, feel it when he plays. We’ll be excited to welcome him here and then find the right role as the season progresses.”
Payton said the trade had less to do with the availability of Anzalone and Robertson, one of the team’s best special team players, than with the caliber of player acquired. Anzalone and Robertson both missed a portion of preseason due to injuries.
“It was really more about his availability and the compensation, and us looking at that position group and really trying to help our football team,” Payton said. “We feel like Alex is going to be healthy for the start of the season, and Craig will be someone that we’ll discuss basically day-to-day and see where he’s at. But a lot of it had more to do with just (adding) another good football player.”
Alonso said he knew the type of team, and defense, he would be joining. He played against the Saints, with the Dolphins, when the teams played at Wembley Stadium in London in 2017. New Orleans won that game 20-0.
“Over the years I’ve watched a lot of film on them and, obviously, I’ve got a lot of catching up to do,” he said. “I’m going to be in here a lot, trying to get caught up.”
The speed with which he acclimates will determine how quickly, and in depth, he can be in the rotation.
“I think depending on the player, depending on the experience with the scheme offensively or defensively,” Payton said. “I think in our league, you don’t get the luxury to say, ‘A month from now (he’ll contribute).’ There’s a quick turnaround. The coaches, everyone involved in the process dives in with the learning part of it.
“You know he’s in football shape, because he’s been in a training camp with another team. He’s up to speed (physically) with the players that are in this locker room. It’s just the turnover relative to the scheme. But it can vary. A lot of it’s depending on the player.”
Check out photos of the faces of your 2019 New Orleans Saints 53-man roster.