It didn't take long for New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen to realize that in order to get his best 11 players on the field, rookie safety Vonn Bell was going to have to be among them.
Bell started 14 of his 16 games, including the final 13 in a row, and showed some of the play-making ability that the Saints expected when they moved up in the second round and picked him No. 61 overall in the draft.
He finished with 87 tackles, second-most on the team, tied for the team lead with two forced fumbles, produced a sack and had four passes defensed.
Like most rookies, there were bouts of growing pains. But it appears that Bell will be administering his own measure of discomfort in the future, too.
BEST GAME:When the Saints trailed San Diego 34-21 with 6:59 left, with San Diego in possession of the ball after a Saints punt, New Orleans needed the near-unthinkable to happen in order to rally for a win. Bell helped initiate the near-unthinkable. On running back Melvin Gordon'sfirst-down carry, Saints safety Kenny Vaccaroheld up Gordon while making a tackle, and Bell came in and knocked the ball out. The Saints recovered and the Chargers never did; they turned it over on their final three possessions, and the Saints pulled out a 35-34 win. Bell finished with six tackles and his first forced fumble in the NFL.
BEST QUOTE:"I think he's grown a lot. All of these different experiences that he's dealt with this year is really going to serve him well as he moves forward throughout his career. I think he has a bright future, still has a lot to learn. But the great thing about him is he comes in every day willing to work. He's like a sponge, man, just wants to soak up as much football as he can. He's been really fun to be around." – Allen