Former New Orleans Saints secondary coach Aaron Glenn was a popular staffer, with a big personality and competitiveness that often manifested itself into truckloads of trash talk during practice and drills.
With Glenn having moved on to Detroit as defensive coordinator for former Saints tight ends coach Dan Campbell, former Super Bowl champion Kris Richard joined the staff this offseason. Richard was with Seattle as cornerbacks coach (2011), defensive backs coach (2012-14) and defensive coordinator (2015-17) when the Seahawks won Super Bowl XLVIII in 2013, and advanced to Super Bowl XLIX in '14.
"I thought Aaron Glenn did a great job with the secondary, and I'm happy for him that he had an opportunity to move on and call the defense," Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen said Wednesday. "I think it was a well-deserved opportunity for him, so I'm excited for him and that opportunity.
"But I think Kris Richard is a guy that, obviously, I had a lot of respect for. I've admired his work. He was part of that Legion of Boom (secondary in Seattle) and getting that set up. And then, the two years there in Dallas (in 2018-19), we had a couple of defensive battles in terms of those games. Both were really low-scoring games and having an opportunity to watch them go to work.
"He's highly competitive. He's extremely intelligent. He brings a pedigree with him – a championship pedigree with him – that gives him instant credibility within that room. Just being around him for the last few months, and then really the last couple of weeks with the majority of our players, it's really been fun for me to be around him. And look, we kind of come a little bit from different backgrounds in terms of scheme and so, I'm learning from him, hopefully there are some things that maybe he might be picking up from me. I think it's going to be a good addition to our coaching staff."
ON THE MOVE: Second-year receiver Marquez Callaway made a significant impact as an undrafted rookie in 2020, with 21 catches for 213 yards, 11 punt returns for 122 yards, four kickoff returns for 94 and two fumble recoveries on special teams. The thing he noticed most about the season?
"It goes by fast," Callaway said. "And everybody is a lot bigger and stronger than in college, I learned that quick. Other than that, it goes by fast. You've got to hurry up and learn, the playbook goes by fast. You've got to jump on board, or the ship's gonna leave without you."
He said the game slowed down as his playing time increased.
"That's when the olders guys kind of took me under (their wings) – even more under than what were already doing," he said. "I know (running back) Alvin (Kamara) was a big part of that. He used to tell me, every game, right before we'd go out there, just be myself, go out there and make a play. He'd tell me that every game – make a play. Go make a play. So that's what I do, go out there, if I make a play with the ball or without the ball, just doing something to change the course of the game."
THE CAM PLAN: Three-time All-Pro defensive end Cam Jordan said an area for which he's seeking improvement is forcing turnovers, perhaps especially while the offense settles in with a new starting quarterback.
"More forced fumbles," said Jordan, who has 11 forced fumbles in his career. "It's time to create these turnovers. With more turnovers, it gives our offense a better chance to put more points on the board. It seems like this minicamp there's going to be an emphasis on getting this ball back.
"I feel like our defense has made strides the last few years – we've got leaders on every position. When it comes down to it, I think our defense is going to have to be a strength this year, more so than it has been in previous years."
CHANGE IS THE CONSTANT: The Saints lost several substantial contributors defensively this offseason. But, Allen said, that sometimes is simply part of the business.
"Every year is different, and there's always going to be a certain amount of change," he said. "Certainly, the quality of player that we lost was significant in terms of, you look at the linebacker position and Kwon (Alexander) and Alex (Anzalone), and then you look at the defensive tackle position and you've got Sheldon (Rankins) and Malcom (Brown), and then obviously Jackrabbit (Jenkins) over at the left corner. So, yeah, there's certainly been some significant, key contributors to our success defensively that we've lost.
"But yet, that is the nature of this game. I think we've done a great job of drafting here in the last few years and there's going to be some young guys that are going to have to step up and take on significant roles. We're excited about this next step and the next chapter in what we're trying to accomplish here, and understand that there are challenges that go along with it. But also excited about getting the chance to see some of these young guys develop."