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Ramon Humber looks to build off last Friday's strong performance

Ramon Humber had nine tackles (six solo) and a sack against the Oakland Raiders

It wasn't a perfect game. But, certainly, it might've been somewhere in the neighborhood, on the block, walking up the front steps, ringing the doorbell.

The number that Ramon Humber did on Oakland in the first half of last Friday in the Saints' 28-20 preseason victory at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome was thoroughly complete for the fifth-year inside linebacker, who has started five NFL games and mostly has made his impact on special teams.

Humber (5-foot-11, 232 pounds) and David Hawthorne manned the inside linebacker positions Friday in place of Curtis Lofton and Jonathan Vilma. And if Humber is one of the players whom Coach Sean Payton referenced when Payton said "double digit" roster spots are unsettled and the players know it, then Humber made a strong move toward claiming one of them against the Raiders.

In two quarters of play, during which time the Saints sprinted to a 23-7 halftime lead, Humber had nine tackles, a sack (for a six-yard loss), a tackle for loss and a quarterback hurry.

Not that Humber was a slouch in the first preseason game. He had four tackles, two tackles for loss, against Kansas City as the defense stiffened after the Chiefs' game-opening touchdown drive. But he was a standout against Oakland, making a tackle for no gain on fourth-and-1 to end Oakland's first drive of the game.

"Statistically, I was pretty clean," he said. "But I know there's stuff I need to work on – certain alignments that prevented me from getting to the spot, or angles I took to the ball where I could have [internal-link-placeholder-0]made more of an impact on the play.

"You gain a lot of confidence. I know what I can do, how I can perform. Just being able to go out there and have a game like that, it brought it up a little bit more but you've still got to be humble, still got to look at the details that you messed up on and try to improve."

That kind of attention to detail could bode well for Humber, who was undrafted out of North Dakota State.

He has been waived three times in his career, twice by Indianapolis and once by the Saints. So he understands how unsettling this time of year can be for some players.

"It's definitely a gut-check time, it's a nerve-wracking time knowing they can call you at any time or they can tap you on the shoulder to let you know that you're going to be released," he said. "But as long as you put on good game film and show that you're improving, things fall in (place)."

It'll be difficult to produce better film than he did against Oakland.
"I thought he played well," Coach Sean Payton said. "I thought he played exceptionally well, probably one of his better games that I've seen at linebacker."

Said Humber: "It was a great opportunity. As a linebacker corps, we all work well together. We all work well together, we count on each other, we count on everybody on the defense and we play off one another. As long as we're able to do that I think our defense will be stellar."

It definitely held its own against the Raiders in the first half. Oakland was limited to 130 yards (82 on its final drive of the half) and six first downs, and quarterback Matt Flynn was sacked five times.

At the center of it all was Humber, who seemed to be drawn to the football.

"I think as a defensive player, you've just got to have relentless pursuit to the ball," he said. "That was my mindset – wherever the ball went, I was going to run as fast as I could to get there."

He wasn't perfect while doing so, but he might've been somewhere in the neighborhood.

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