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Marcus Maye, Kentavius Street hope to add versatility, fulfilled potential to New Orleans Saints defense

Maye has 60 NFL starts, Street coming off best season

The newest Saints free-agent roster additions Marcus Maye and Kentavius Street arrive in New Orleans to sign their contracts at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center on March 18, 2022.

There's a touch of the known and of the unknown with the New Orleans Saints' two newest free agent additions, safety Marcus Maye and defensive lineman Kentavius Street.

Maye, a who played his first five NFL seasons with the Jets, provides the known commodity. He started all 60 games he played for the Jets, and totaled six interceptions, four forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, 3.5 sacks, 312 tackles and nine tackles for loss while playing myriad roles on the defense.

"I did a number of things, whatever coaches asked me to do," Maye said. "If it was back deep at free safety, to come up in the box, to roll down in the slot, to come off the edges, different blitzes, man to man. Pretty much whatever the coach asked you to do, I feel like I can get that job done. So I'm excited to plug myself in on this new defense, go out there and make plays with these guys.

"I take pride in being versatile. You can't be one-dimensional, you've got to be able to do multiple things. It allows you to be on the field at different times and different places and things like that. So if that's covering man to man, blitzing off the edge, playing that deep free safety, playing in the box, rolling down, I feel like I can do it all. I take pride in that.

"(The Saints) just told me to be ready. Told me to be ready for whatever they throw at me. I told them I will be. It's one of the things I take pride in, just being able to line up and do multiple things. They didn't necessarily say where I was going to be at, they just told me to be ready to play multiple things and be in multiple places."

Street, who was with San Francisco his first three seasons, supplies the unknown commodity. Last year was the first time he played in all regular-season games, accounting for almost half of his 35 games played. He tore his ACL during his Pro Day at North Carolina State in 2018 and didn't play his rookie season, then played just three games in '19 while still battling injuries before joining the defensive line rotation in '20.

Street, who had three sacks, five quarterback hits, eight tackles for loss, a forced fumble and 27 tackles last year, believes his production will increase once he's reunited with Saints co-defensive coordinator/defensive line coach Ryan Nielsen, who was his position coach at N.C. State for three seasons.

"Coach Nielsen played a huge part in me coming to New Orleans," Street said. "I stayed three years at N.C. State with him and I just know what he can get out of me as a player and as a person, so I knew it would be a great fit going to New Orleans.

"I find out new things about myself as a man and player each year, and I know just looking on my film from last year, there's so many things I can improve on. There's so many stats, so many plays that I could have made last year and I know I'll only get better, because Coach Nielsen is a perfectionist. I know those little things that I left on the playing field last year won't get left this year and I'll only get better."

Street said that he admires New Orleans' winning tradition, but that Nielsen's recruitment sealed the deal for him.

"Whenever we played the Saints (when he was with the 49ers), I kind of marked that calendar date because I just wanted to show out for my guy. He played a huge part in me getting to the league. So many nuances about how I just carry myself on a day to day when I'm in the facility, it just came from Coach Nielsen. So whenever I had a chance to play in front of him, I wanted to make sure that I put my best foot forward.

"He's so meticulous with how he studies the game. Not only does he study the game well, he studies his players well. He knows what makes them tick and he knows how to put each player in the best position to be productive.

"There's a lot of D-line coaches that can say they study the game, they know the game inside and out, but I know for a fact from just witnessing it, how he attacks the game and how much he studies it. It's almost like it's in his blood. He eats, sleeps and breathes it. A lot of guys say they do it, but he really does do it and you can tell by the product he's put out there."

While Street likely is his healthiest as a pro, Maye is recovering from a ruptured Achilles.

"Rehab is going well," he said. "I'm attacking it every day, so I'm looking forward to getting back out there. I've still got a little ways to go, but it's still coming along, the process of just getting everything back to where it was.

"Definitely going to take my time and make sure I'm back to 100 percent before I go out there full speed and everything like that."

The newest Saints free-agent roster additions Marcus Maye and Kentavius Street arrive in New Orleans to sign their contracts at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center on March 18, 2022.

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