Khalen Saunders knows and likes a good story when he sees and hears one, and in Giants quarterback Tommy DeVito, the New Orleans Saints defensive tackle definitely sees and hears a good story.
DeVito, an undrafted rookie from New Jersey, will be making his fifth start for his home team Sunday when the Giants (5-8) play the Saints (6-7) in the Caesars Superdome. And the Giants have won three straight games with Devito, who completed 52 of 72 passes for 595 yards and five touchdowns, with no interceptions, and ran for 84 yards on 16 carries during the streak.
"I enjoy it," Saunders said. "I'm all for that type of stuff. It's fun. It's a change and change usually brings positive things to a team, especially when there's excitement around it.
"I'm a player's first type of guy and I'm genuinely happy for the kid. I don't really know him too much, but I'm just happy for him coming into his own."
Overall, DeVito, who played collegiately at Illinois and Syracuse, has completed 83 of 126 passes for 855 yards and eight touchdowns, with three interceptions, and has run for 154 yards and a touchdown on 31 carries. He struck his highest note last Sunday, leading a last-minute drive that helped the Giants post a 24-22, comeback victory over Green Bay
New York drove 57 yards in the final 93 seconds, with DeVito completing all four pass attempts for 53 yards, to set up Randy Bullock's 37-yard, game-winning field goal.
"I think he's operating really well," Saints Coach Dennis Allen said. "He's done a good job of protecting the football the last couple of weeks, he does a really good job with his legs of getting himself out of trouble. I thought he showed a lot of poise in that two-minute drive against Green Bay, to be able to operate like he did.
"He creates a spark. He's able to get himself out of trouble, create some things with his feet. And yet, when he's got a clean pocket to throw the ball into, he's done a really nice job of delivering the ball on time and on target. They're obviously rallying around him. It's a good story for them in terms of a hometown kid that's come in as an undrafted free agent. He's stepped up and taken advantage of his opportunities and he's playing well."
Too, the Giants have been opportunistic during the stretch. New York has forced 12 turnovers while committing just three during their run.
"It's not surprising that they're 3-0 in the last three games being that they've got such a really good turnover-takeaway differential," Allen said.
But the turn happened with DeVito at quarterback. He benefits from having a healthy Saquon Barkley (783 yards and three touchdowns on 185 carries, and 183 yards and four touchdowns on 31 catches) at running back.
"Going up against one of the most dynamic backs in the league in Saquon is certainly a challenge that we have to be ready for," Saints linebacker Demario Davis said.
But DeVito has provided a spark for the Giants that the Saints will attempt to extinguish.
"He certainly playing some good football, has brought a lot of energy and consistency to their offense," Davis said. "Playing at a high level, making all the reads, going all the right places with the throws. Can extend plays with his legs. Has brought a lot of confidence, it seems like, to that team. So he's playing at a high level, so you've got to give him props."