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The Sharper Image

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    <span style="">The addition of FS Darren Sharper as an unrestricted free agent this past offseason strengthened the Saints' secondary with a proven performer with playmaking ability, leadership skills and a wealth of experience. "I knew that I wanted to join a team that was going to play an aggressive style of play and after spending time with Coach Payton and Gregg Wiiliams, I felt this was going to be a good fit," Shaper said during training camp.   

A good fit, indeed. "Darren has tremendous instincts and a great skills when the ball is in the air," said Payton. "He understands what the defense is called to do on each play and gets himself in the proper positions to make plays on the football. He's obviously a heady player."

With his penchant for the pick, cynics would cite that Sharper must be a guesser or a riverboat gambler who jumps routes and abandons his defensive responsibilities, but that's not the case according to Williams. "We don't have guessers out there on the field," Williams said last week. "If they want to guess and do there own thing, then they come and stand by me on the sideline. I don't have any use for them out on the field. We won't tolerate it. Darren doesn't guess, he studies and understands route concepts and where the ball is designed to go and then he puts himself in position to defend the pass and the defender. But his instincts are something that you can't teach. He has great concentration and focuses on the ball and that allows him to get his hands on the ball."

The NFL's active leader with 61 interceptions, which ranks ninth all-time, has been voted to the Pro Bowl four times during his career and has scored 11 touchdowns off of interceptions, the second-highest total in NFL history. The 13-year NFL veteran has appeared in 190 regular season games with 174 starts and has extensive postseason experience in ten games, seven of which he opened in the starting lineup.

The durable Sharper has started 67 straight regular season games, the third longest current streak for a safety.

Following is a look inside Sharper's penchant for the interception:

11 of Sharper's picks have been returned for touchdowns, second-most in NFL history. Besides being a legendary ballhawk, Shaper is consistent tackler who has posted 75 or more stops ten times during his career.
Sharper is ranked first among active NFL players in career picks, ninth overall in NFL history. He's ranked second among all-time interception return yardage leaders with 1,353.

MOST INTERCEPTIONS IN 2009

Rank, Player
Team   
No.
1t. Darren Sharper   
NO
7
1t. Jairus Byrd
BUF
7
3. Asante Samuel
PHI
5
4t. Aqib Talib
TB
4
 4t. Charles Woodson
GB
4

MOST CAREER INTERCEPTIONS BY ACTIVE NFL PLAYERS
Rank, Player
Years      
No.   
1. Darren Sharper
1997-  
61
2. Ed Reed
2002-
45
3. Champ Bailey
1999-
44
4. Dre' Bly
1999-
41
5. Charles Woodson     
1998-
40

MOST CAREER INTERCEPTIONS IN NFL HISTORY
Rank, Player               
Years          
No.   
1. Paul Krause
1964-79
81
2. Emlen Tunnell
1948-61
79
3. Rod Woodson
1987-03
71
4. Night Train Lane
1952-65
68
5. Ken Riley
1969-83
65
6. Ronnie Lott
1981-94
63
7t. Dick LeBeau
1959-72
62
7t. Dave Brown
1975-89
62
9. Darren Sharper
1997-
61
10. Emmitt Thomas
1966-78
58

MOST CAREER INTERCEPTION RETURN
YARDAGE IN NFL HISTORY

Rank, Player              
Years         
Yards    
1. Rod Woodson
1987-03
1,483
2. Darren Sharper
1997-
1,353
3. Deion Sanders
1989-05
1,331
4. Emlen Tunnell
1948-61
1,282
5. Ed Reed
2002-
1,213

MOST CAREER INTERCEPTIONS FOR
TOUCHDOWNS IN NFL HISTORY

Rank, Player                
 Years         
No.   
1. Rod Woodson
1987-03
12
2. Darren Sharper
1997- 11
3t. Ken Houston
1967-80
9
3t. Deion Sanders
1989-05
9
3t. Aeneas Williams
1991-04
9

• Sharper has found the proverbial "fountain of youth" in New Orleans and backed up his reputation as one of the NFL's top defensive playmakers, tying for the NFL lead with seven interceptions, including two multiple pick performances. A career-high and club record three of his interceptions have been returned for touchdowns, while he's added 36 tackles (19 solo), half-a-sack and three pass defenses.

• Sharper has already set a career-high and a single season club record in picks for scores and his 317 return yards is a team record and is tied for the ninth-highest single season total in NFL record books. With one more pick for a touchdown, Sharper will tie the all-time NFL record both overall (12) and in a single season (4).

A List of Darren Sharper's Interceptions as a Saint:
Game One vs. Detroit Lions: Intercepted a pair of Matthew Stafford passes in his Saints debut, which marked, at the time, his eighth multiple-interception game of his career.
Game Two at Philadelphia Eagles: Intercepted Eagles QB Kevin Kolb in the fourth quarter and returned the interception 97-yards for a touchdown, which, at the time, tied a franchise-record for the longest interception return for a touchdown (tied Tommy Myers' team-record).
Game Four vs. New York Jets: Intercepted Jets rookie QB Mark Sanchez twice, the first of which he returned 99 yards for a touchdown and gave the Saints a 10-0 lead at time. The 99-yard interception set a club-record for the longest interception return in team history, breaking a record he had tied two weeks earlier and that he had shared with Tommy Myers. He also intercepted Sanchez in the fourth quarter of the Saints' 24-10 win.
Game Six at Miami: Played a key role in the team's thrilling comeback win over the Dolphins when he intercepted a QB Chad Henne pass and returned it 42-yards for a touchdown. With his third interception returned for a touchdown through just six games, Sharper set a franchise-mark for most interceptions returned for touchdowns in a single season. He also passed Deion Sanders to move into second-place on the all-time interception return yardage list with 1,353 yards.
Game Seven vs. Atlanta: Notched his seventh interception of the season when he picked off QB Matt Ryan late in the game on deep pass near the Saints' goal-line and with the team holding onto a 35-27 lead.

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