Okafor talks Davenport, Saints depth and returning from Injury
Alex Okafor, returning from an Achilles tear that ended his season in late November, could answer the Saints’ most immediate need at pass rusher opposite Cam Jordan, while Davenport takes the time to learn his position.
“It’s a great situation for (Davenport),” said Okafor, appearing on The Chris Gordy Show on Sports1280 this week. “Just being a first round pick in general, there’s a different kind of pressure that comes with that. But he has two older guys, me and Cam, to kind of follow our lead. We’re going to show him the ropes.”
But as Okafor tells it, it’s the depth on the defensive line this year that could be the recipe the Saints are looking for. Second-year defensive ends Trey Hendrickson and Al-Quadin Muhammad will look to build off their rookie seasons, while veterans George Johnson and Mitchell Loewen are also in the mix. Okafor said when looking at the reigning Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles, their constant rotation on the defensive line was obviously a key to their success.
“Like I’ve been saying, the Eagles did it during the Super Bowl and it paid off,” said Okafor. “Whenever you can bring in a fresh four to rush the passer, that does your defense wonders. I think that’s what we’re trying to do here. We finally have the depth to do that now, and I think it’s going to pay off this season.”
As for Okafor, despite coming off a devastating injury, he didn’t have to return to New Orleans. As a free agent this past spring, he visited with the Buccaneers, before ultimately re-signing with the Saints on a reported two-year $10 million deal. In January, Okafor made it clear he wanted to be back in New Orleans, saying as much publicly. Now, it’s about getting healthy.
“We’re still on track – if anything, we’re a little bit ahead,” said Okafor on his timetable to return to action. “The goal is still to be back before training camp, and that’s a real possibility. I don’t see anything that’s going to stop me from doing that.”
Okafor said currently he is running and going through individual drills – basically everything except taking live reps at practice. Come July 25th, expect to see him back in the trenches.
However, if Okafor is slowed at all in his recovery, some of those other names on the roster could start to climb up the depth chart. And he says he knows it full well.
“It doesn’t go unnoticed,” said Okafor. “There’s only 53 spots. I’ve got to get back as quick as possible.
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A native of Metairie, Chris Gordy hosts “The Chris Gordy Show,” daily from 8am-10am on Sports1280AM & on the iHeartRadio app. A lifelong Saints fan & passionate LSU fan, Gordy bleeds purple, black and gold. A 2001 graduate of Archbishop Rummel, Gordy longs for the old days of the Catholic League. But he thinks there is still nothing better than…