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Defensive end Marcus Davenport makes presence felt in season debut for New Orleans Saints

Two quarterback hits, one pass defensed in limited snaps against Chargers

See the best moments from the Saints defense in the Week 5 match up against the Los Angeles Chargers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
See the best moments from the Saints defense in the Week 5 match up against the Los Angeles Chargers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

"Collapsing the pocket" isn't listed on the end-of-game stat sheet for defensive players, and neither is "occupying multiple blockers."

But even without that added metric, New Orleans Saints defensive end Marcus Davenport undoubtedly was impactful in his 2020 debut, a week ago against the Los Angeles Chargers in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

In the Saints’ 30-27 overtime victory, Davenport played limited snaps after missing the first four games due to injuries to his elbow and toe. But in that small window, the third-year veteran posted a couple of quarterback hits and a pass defensed, a snippet of the disruptiveness he caused when he was on the field for less than half the defensive snaps.

"Yeah, made some impact," Coach Sean Payton said. "He definitely had a handful of good rushes. Our plan was to play him right at that number count. It was his first game back. Those snaps will gradually increase.

"(Defensive end) Trey (Hendrickson's) playing well (with a team-leading 4.5 sacks while starting at right defensive end in Davenport's absence). We've got to just continue to grind on the pressure package, whether it's coming from a three-man rush or four-man rush or pressure."

Davenport was pleased to be part of the package.

"It was great to be back last week, just to be able to go out there and support and physically help with the game and all that," he said. "It's just one of those things (where) you've just got to keep on going with the times, take my time. You can't rush it."

Patience is a trait Davenport has had to learn as he has dealt with multiple injuries in his young career. He missed three games in each of his first two seasons before sitting out the first four this year. Davenport appeared poised only to miss the first three weeks, but injured his toe in preparation for the fourth game, against Detroit.

"It was just that, a setback," he said. "I'm just lucky I'm still able to keep on going and I have to take it like that, one day at a time."

But he understands how critical his availability is for giving the Saints quality depth along the defensive line, and the Saints understand what he brings when healthy – 10.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, 28 quarterback hits and 11 tackles for loss in his first 26 regular-season games.

"So far, I feel like some (injuries) could have been prevented a little bit better by me as far as, little tape jobs and stuff," Davenport said. "But for the most part, I think a lot of it is things that come and go. Nobody really wants to be hurt.

"I think the biggest part is I've wanted to be there from the beginning. Things happened, and they kept happening. But that's not something that I can let get me down. There's too much on the line for us as a team. I just need to be out there to progressively get better and apply what I can. Long-term, the easiest answer is do what I can. You've got to do what you can to be there and be available."

The first time he was available this season, his impact showed.

"For the most part, I felt like I did good," he said. "But 'good' is the enemy of 'great,' and that's not enough. I didn't think that there were really any mess-ups or things like that, it's just little technique things, things I need to play through to kind of develop again.

"My new normal has changed. It's kind of been a process of growing. I'm not the same player, so I've just got to build upon that.

"(The) new normal is just me, currently. I can't think of the same player as last year – I've gotten bigger, stronger, I've got some game film under my belt. So I've got to progress from there. Normal is kind of relative, so as far as what y'all have seen, I'm not that same player. I've got to keep on going."

Check out the best action shots of your New Orleans Saints offense through the first five weeks of the 2020 NFL season.

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