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Vonn Bell sounds ready for his role in New Orleans Saints secondary

'I always want to be that guy, but we're going to let time tell'

New Orleans Saints Training Camp 2018 First Day in Pads Michael C. Hebert

Don't look past Vonn Bell.

Just, don't.

There may be an inclination to do that in this training camp, after Marcus Williams had a standout season at safety as a rookie in 2017, and Kurt Coleman was added as a free agent in March.

But Bell, the New Orleans Saints' second-round pick in 2016, simply keeps plugging and thumping, whether as a starter in New Orleans' base or three-safety defenses (24 of 32 regular-season and both playoff games), or as a player who routinely has played as many snaps as the starters on the occasions when he hasn't taken the first defensive snap of the game.

"I always want to be that guy (to start), but we're going to let time tell," Bell said.

What time already has shown is that Bell is a valuable, physical chess piece for the Saints' defense. He already has four forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, 5.5 sacks (4.5 last season), seven pass breakups and 176 tackles on his resume.

And he knows that the effectiveness of New Orleans' three-safety alignment pretty much assures that his workload will remain steady.

"You never know, especially with the 'Buffalo' set, how we do the three safeties," Bell said. "You never know who's going to be at nickel, who's going to be at free, who's going to be strong because we're all safeties. We're not just labeled as strong and free.

"We can all rotate and we can all confuse the quarterback in that way with our disguise and our looks and where we align and how we roll down and spin down. It's all different."

It's a "good" different, as is the fact that Bell is entering his third season in this defense. He's not the young pup any more, the head-swimming has disappeared, and he's more knowledgeable about his responsibilities.

"I'm very comfortable now," he said. "I know my assignments, know my adjustments. I've got some little vet moves I can do now that I picked from other guys in years previous. I'm very comfortable in this scheme, ready to just go out there and have fun with my guys."

In the middle of it all, there's a competition in which to engage.

Like any other prideful athlete, Bell wants to hear his name in the starting lineup, one way or another. He'll have the rest of training camp to make his point.

"Right now, we're just going out here competing for the spot," he said. "We're just going out here competing and stacking days, just keep on getting better each week, each day, with the unit as a whole. We're just keeping on getting better competing at the spot, and we're going to see the best man wins."

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