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New Orleans Saints cornerback Isaac Yiadom expects to be targeted in Marshon Lattimore's absence

'It just gives me more opportunities to make a play on the ball'

Check out the game action shots from the New Orleans Saints game against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 10 of the 2023 NFL season.
Check out the game action shots from the New Orleans Saints game against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 10 of the 2023 NFL season.

It's not as if Isaac Yiadom hasn't already been in this exact same position for the New Orleans Saints, stepping in on defense for New Orleans and being asked to fill the space that otherwise would be occupied by one of the Saints' best defenders, Pro Bowl cornerback Marshon Lattimore.

The Saints, 5-5 and leading the NFC South Division, face the Falcons (4-6) on Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

There was a flash of Yiadom-for-Lattimore in the third quarter of the season opener against Tennessee. When Lattimore went to the sideline for a breather, Yiadom came in and the Titans immediately tested him on a deep pass intended for receiver Chris Moore.

Yiadom used his speed to track Moore and as the throw sailed 41 yards past the line of scrimmage to New Orleans' 6-yard line, he fended off Moore with his right arm while deflecting the pass to safety Marcus Maye with his left hand for an interception.

In the Saints' third game of the season, Yiadom started at left cornerback for the injured Paulson Adebo against Green Bay and despite a mostly solid day (four pass breakups and four tackles), in the fourth quarter of the 18-17 loss, he picked up a 22-yard pass interference penalty on Green Bay's first touchdown drive and was in coverage on the touchdown pass as the Packers tied the score, then took the lead on a successful point-after attempt.

He wasn't credited with a start in the next game against Tampa Bay, when Adebo still was inactive, but he intercepted a pass at the Saints' 1-yard line to prevent a touchdown and defended two passes, while adding six tackles.

Since, Yiadom's contributions mainly have come on special teams as a gunner on punt returns. But now, with Lattimore sidelined by an ankle injury sustained against Minnesota on Nov. 12, the 6-foot-1, 188-pounder is expected to step in at right corner and provide for New Orleans much of what it already has seen.

"He's an All-Pro player, we all mirror our games after him," Yiadom said of Lattmore. "So it's tough losing him, but at the end of the day, it's next man up. So I've got an opportunity to go out there and fill in his shoes. It's pretty big shoes to fill in, but I'm not going to have a problem doing it."

With New Orleans being his fifth NFL team in six seasons, Yiadom, who has a career-high seven pass breakups this season, has shown that he not only can stick on an NFL roster, but that he can positively impact as he prepares for his 22nd start in 81 games.

"I'm pretty comfortable," he said. "I stay prepared every single game, like I'm going to play. So it doesn't matter if somebody is out or somebody is in, I expect to play every single game. So I prepare the same way, nothing's going to change.

"I got an OTA and a training camp under my belt, and I'm in the system now. So I just feel like I'm building on what we started in the spring and fall."

That said, Yiadom wants to tighten up his red zone coverage.

"The things I think I can improve from the games I played is the red zone phase," he said. "It's something I'm trying to get better at in practice, and emphasize that in the game."

He'll need that, and possibly more. Adebo leads the team in interceptions (four), pass breakups (13), fumble recoveries (two) and forced fumbles (two). Partly, that is due to opponents testing him rather than Lattimore.

Yiadom figures that in lieu of going after the more accomplished Adebo, opponents will seek out him on pass defense.

"It just gives me more opportunities to make a play on the ball," he said. "So the same way they were throwing at Adebo when Marshon was out there, is the same way it's going to be for me. I'm going to go ahead and make plays on the ball like Adebo did."

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