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New Orleans Saints cornerback Paulson Adebo appears ready for bounce-back season

"Great players are able to play even when they're not 100 percent."


You'll hear no excuses from Paulson Adebo, though heaven knows the New Orleans Saints cornerback could lean on one if he wanted to.

After a somewhat surprising and highly productive rookie season in 2021, when the third-round pick (No. 76 overall) started all 17 regular-season games, Adebo missed the first two games of 2022 with an ankle injury and spent a good portion of the year playing catch-up, missing two more games – including the season finale with a hamstring injury – while participating in 13 of the 17.

It showed on the field: Three interceptions, eight passes defensed, four tackles for loss and 66 tackles as a rookie, to no picks, seven passes defensed, two tackles for loss and 60 tackles last year.

But for Adebo, no excuses will be offered.

"I mean, it's difficult but that's part of the game," he said. "Great players are able to play even when they're not 100 percent. The reality of being in the NFL is, nobody's 100 percent. So being able to put yourself out there and make plays regardless of the situation is kind of my mindset."

And so, after starting 29 of his first 30 games played, he's back in a familiar position: Healthy and operating as a starting cornerback with the Saints during their offseason workouts, including this week's mandatory veteran minicamp. In '21, he combined with Pro Bowl cornerback Marshon Lattimore to give New Orleans one of the most formidable starting outside cornerback duos in the league.

And what Adebo sees, from himself and the secondary, is a continuation of the progress showed when all the parts were available last season. New Orleans allowed the second-fewest passing yards per game last season at 184.4, was third in completion percentage allowed (60.07 percent) and gave up 17 passing touchdowns, third fewest in the league.

In addition to himself, Lattimore remains one of the best in the league, Alontae Taylor turned heads as a rookie last season and is taking snaps in the slot during this offseason, Bradley Roby was a reliable contributor and safeties Tyrann Mathieu (team-leading three interceptions) and Marcus Maye have a season of chemistry under their belt.

"I think we're just trying to pick up where we left off last year," he said. "I think we finished second in passing yards allowed last year as a secondary, so I think this year we're just trying to build on top of that. We've got a lot of guys back and we've got some new guys as well. I think we're very confident in what we can do this year."

There hasn't been much doubt about what Adebo can do when he's healthy, and he has spent the offseason making sure that variable is one that's working in his favor.

"For me, the big thing this offseason was just getting healthy," he said. "And then, just trying to fine tune all the little things, making sure I still know exactly what I need to do on every play. And just trying to be in a position to make some more plays. Help the team as much as possible.

"It just helps knowing that everybody is buying in, everybody is putting the same sweat and tears into it. So it'll be that much sweeter when we start winning."

New Orleans players participate in Day 2 of 2023 Minicamp at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center on Wednesday, June 14, 2023.

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