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Malcolm Roach provides versatility for New Orleans Saints on interior defensive line

'That's something that's really stuck with me, just being able to play multiple positions and being able to do more'

Check out the game action from the New Orleans Saints game against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 2 of the 2023 NFL Preseason including defensive lineman Malcolm Roach (97).
Check out the game action from the New Orleans Saints game against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 2 of the 2023 NFL Preseason including defensive lineman <forge-entity title="Malcolm Roach" slug="malcolm-roach" code="player">Malcolm Roach</forge-entity> (97).

The value partly lies in the versatility, Malcolm Roach said.

"My dad always told me, you might not always be the most valued person in the room, but you always can be the most valuable person in the room," said Roach, who purposely is listed as a defensive lineman, rather than at a specific position. "That's something that's really stuck with me throughout playing football, just being able to play multiple positions and being able to do more. (defensive end) Cam (Jordan) always says, 'The more you can do.'

"And that's something that sticks with me – I'm able to play nose guard and I'm also able to play defensive tackle. Being able to play those two positions is two totally different things, but me learning that at an early stage of my career, how to play the nose guard position but also just having a natural ability to play three-technique (defensive tackle) is something that, I think, is going to take me a long way. To be honest, (it has) kept me around here for a little while."

Four years, to be exact, for the former undrafted rookie from Texas who also played some linebacker in college and swears that, among New Orleans' athletic defensive tackles, he's the most athletic.

Roach is lighter this season, around 290 pounds, and the weight droppage has helped add to his effectiveness.

"I think he's had a good camp," Coach Dennis Allen said. "He's a lot more sudden and explosive than maybe where he's been at in years past. That's been good to see. I think that's a player that's gotten better throughout this camp."

"Me and my trainer, we've got a good program together, where we're trying to cut body fat and add muscle, get back to doing a lot more explosive lifts," Roach said. "Because I knew this year, I wasn't going to have to be as heavy as I've been in the past. Just playing a different style of D-line this year, a different mind-set. So just got to doing a lot of explosive lifts, getting my legs and glutes back strong."

Numerically, that might not register so much due to the position he plays. Interior defensive lineman normally isn't a glamorous spot – Roach had his best season last year, when he started three of 13 games and registered his first career sack, with 26 tackles, two tackles for loss and two quarterback hits.

But whatever it is Roach is doing, and however the numbers stack up, he's sure to be doing it with a smile on his face.

"The more plays you make, the more fun comes," he said. "The more comfortable you get, the more fun it is. The more your role grows on the team – I remember coming here as an undrafted free agent, not knowing what was going on – I always told myself I'm going to have fun every day I'm in this building. I'm also going to work my tail off.

"But in doing this, I know I'm going to enjoy every moment that I'm in here, because tomorrow is not promised in this league. I learned that at an early age. Tomorrow is not promised. I'm going hard and making the most of every day while I'm here, and just having fun and enjoying it. Who wouldn't have fun? I'm getting to play football for a living. I love what I do."

JIMMY'S BACK: Tight end Jimmy Graham returned to the field Wednesday. Graham last practiced Friday morning in Costa Mesa, Calif., in the Saints' second of two joint practices with the Chargers, before experiencing a medical episode Friday evening, which possibly was caused by a seizure.

"He had a good day today, so it was good to see," Allen said.

"I thought he looked good today. We're going to keep evaluating that, but certainly that was good see, the type of day he had today. He's a big target and made some plays in a contested environment – a couple of plays across the middle, a couple of red zone plays. The things I've seen him do in the past, I saw him doing today and that's a good sign."

PRACTICE REPORT: Rookie defensive tackle Bryan Bresee left Wednesday's practice early after being poked in the eye, while rookie receiver A.T. Perry missed practice due to an illness. Offensive lineman Calvin Throckmorton and cornerback Marshon Lattimore participated in individual drills, but not practice. Allen said he didn't think any of the issues were significant.

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