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Waters Ready To Fulfill Potential

    <span>Since coming into the NFL in 2007 with the [San Diego Chargers](, as a third round draft choice, Saints LB Anthony Waters has fought an uphill battle.  

Touted as a potential first round draft choice as a senior at Clemson in 2006, he tore his anterior cruciate ligament in the season opener vs. Florida Atlantic. Waters instead fell to the third round of the 2007 NFL Draft. In addition the continuing rehabilitation from the knee injury kept him from seeing action in the regular season as a rookie.

When Waters finally took the field in 2008, he was slated to compete at inside linebacker at training camp in San Diego's 3-4 scheme. However injuries to the club on the outside, forced them to move him there at midstream. After appearing in seven games, making three tackles in limited action on defense and recording a stop and fumble recovery on special teams, Waters was let go by the Chargers following the end of the season.

In an effort to improve their depth at the linebacker position and on special teams, the Saints signed Waters nearly a month into the club's offseason strength and conditioning program. Since then, the Lake View, South Carolina native, who was never completely healthy until midway through last season has taken advantage of the clean slate, taking an advantage of an offseason without rehabilitation involved while learning New Orleans' base 4-3 defense, a slight departure from the scheme in San Diego.

"This is an opportunity to give me a fresh start," said Waters of signing with New Orleans. "It's something I want to take advantage of at this point in my career. I'm happy to be here with the Saints and I'm starting to feel comfortable with the defense. I think the new scheme is a better fit for me."

Getting out on the field for OTAs and the club's veteran's minicamp, Waters has worked primarily in the middle and has enjoyed having a couple of tackles in front of him, allowing him to use his speedy 6-3, 238 pound body to chase runners and receivers rather than having to shed blockers.

"I feel like this defense is better for me," said Waters "I feel like it lets me run around more and make plays. I feel more comfortable with four guys in front of me. In that 3-4, you can have a man on the inside (nose tackle), but that's it."

In the quest for a roster spot on opening day, which will continue through training camp in six weeks, Saints head coach Sean Payton has been preaching versatility in ability to play different positions to prospective backups including Waters, Marvin Mitchell, Robert Meachem/Jo-Lonn Dunbar.aspx">Jo-Lonn Dunbar and Jonathan Casillas, as well as emphasizing special teams play.

Like many rookies coming into the league, Waters did not place a great emphasis on special teams at first, placing a premium on being a starter. Yet following Monday's practice, he was found on the field working on techniques with special teams coordinator Greg McMahon and assistant special teams coach Mike Mallory. He volunteers to play on any team in the coverage and blocking units, as he understands the role it could play in him securing a spot and allowing him to make a contribution.

"This is my third year. I know where it starts," he said. I want to contribute on special teams and defense. Whatever I can take advantage of, that's what I do. I love running down on kickoff coverage because it's a chance for me to make a play."

While terming this as a very important season for him as he strives to get on the field in a regular role on defense and special teams, Waters does not feel pressure heading into camp and has confidence that his hard work in getting back to 100 percent after a devastating injury is about to pay off for him.

"I just want to do my best and do my job in whatever they ask me to do and at the end of the day, they're going to take who they want to," Waters said.

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