Cameron Jordan wins another NFC Defensive Player of the Week award

Cameron Jordan wins his second NFC Defensive Player of the Week award in three weeks:

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Three cheers for Cameron Jordan: the New Orleans Saints defensive end has won recognition as Week 17’s NFC Defensive Player of the Week after racking up 3.5 sacks against the Carolina Panthers. It’s the second time he’s won this award in the last three weeks, stringing together 7.5 sacks across his last three games.

It’s also a best-case scenario for the big defensive end, who started the year slowly and was beginning to look a little long in the tooth. But Jordan’s big second-half surge has done a lot to build confidence in the odds he’ll finish his NFL career in New Orleans. The Saints need to figure out something with his 2022 salary cap hit (which ranks fourth-highest on the team at $22.6 million), but let’s hope that’s a problem for another day.

For now, Jordan has a big opportunity to help his team keep playing with another big game in Week 18. He’ll face off with the Atlanta Falcons and Matt Ryan, his favorite quarterback to sack in the NFL — Jordan has sacked Ryan more often than any other player has sacked a quarterback in league history (22 times). The Saints still need some help to secure a postseason berth, but more impact plays from Jordan would really help them go the distance.

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Watch: Cameron Jordan leads the Saints pregame huddle

Cameron Jordan stepped in for Demario Davis and Kwon Alexander to lead the Saints pregame huddle before kickoff with Miami:

The pregame speech has become an important ritual for the New Orleans Saints over the years, with Drew Brees’ weekly speeches giving way to Demario Davis’ passionate deliveries. But neither of them were available on Monday night against the Miami Dolphins. Davis’ usual partner in the huddle, Kwon Alexander, was unavailable too. So naturally speculation swirled on social media as to who would step into the role.

It ended up being Cameron Jordan. Regularly voted a team captain, Jordan has been known for leading by example rather than by his words — he’s funny and charismatic but isn’t really a rah-rah “rally the troops” kind of guy. So it was surprising to see him address his teammates in the Caesars Superdome end zone, which we’ve embedded above.

Let’s hope his message resonates. The Saints need all hands on deck to handle the Dolphins after losing dozens of players to the COVID-19 reserve list. If they’re going to come away with a win, it’ll be because Jordan and those around him made some game-changing plays.

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Cameron Jordan recognized as NFC Defensive Player of the Week

Cameron Jordan recognized as NFC Defensive Player of the Week

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New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan was recognized as NFC Defensive Player of the Week for Week 15 after his efforts against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, spearheading his defense’s historic shutout against Hall of Fame-bound quarterback Tom Brady. Jordan finished the day with two sacks, which put his career total at 100.5 — making him only the second defender in franchise history to pass the century mark.

Jordan was also credited with four quarterback pressures in total, four defensive stops, and a forced fumble. Pro Football Focus defines stops as:

  • On a first down, if the offense gets 45% of the way to a first down or less
  • On a second down, if the offense gets 60% of the way to a first down or less
  • On a third or fourth down, if the offense doesn’t get a first down

So it’s pretty impressive to see him playing at such a high level after missing a game while in COVID-19 protocols. When Jordan is playing his best, everyone around him is able to level up, too. Let’s hope he can keep up the pace as the season draws to a close.

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Cameron Jordan, Ty Montgomery activated from COVID-19 reserve list

Saints’ Cameron Jordan, Ty Montgomery activated from COVID-19 reserve

They’re back: the New Orleans Saints activated defensive end Cameron Jordan and wide receiver Ty Montgomery from the COVID-19 reserve list, per Thursday’s update to the daily NFL transactions wire. That leaves running back Mark Ingram as the only player still in league COVID-19 protocols — fingers crossed he returns soon while no other teammates join him.

Jordan’s return, specifically, is a big boost for a Saints defensive line that could use all the help it can get. He returns just in time to face Tom Brady and the heavily-favored Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday night. And while Jordan has seen some regression over the last two years as a decade-long streak of starts begins to weigh on him, he’s been a big factor in New Orleans’ success against Brady.

As a team the Saints have sacked Brady 12 times and intercepted him 7 times, also forcing a pair of fumbles, in four meetings since he landed in the NFC South last season. He’s thrown 8 touchdown passes and run for another in that span but gone 1-3 against New Orleans. Whatever the formula to beating Brady is, the Saints have been able to find it. Getting Jordan back in the lineup should do a lot to help them chase it one more time.

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Cameron Jordan’s 172-game streak to end on COVID-19 list vs. Jets

Cameron Jordan’s 172-game streak to end on COVID-19 list vs. Jets

This is tough: it doesn’t appear the New Orleans Saints will have defensive end Cameron Jordan on the field in Sunday’s game with the New York Jets. Jordan was placed on the COVID-19 reserve list earlier this week after testing positive, and wasn’t able to clear league protocol prior to the team’s departure on Saturday. Jordan wished his teammates well on Twitter and called for defensive linemen David Onyemata and Marcus Davenport to “lead the charge” in his absence.

If Jordan isn’t able to make it out of protocol in time, it’ll end his 172-game streak of games played in the black and gold. That’s not just the longest active streak on the team, but across the NFL. Jordan hasn’t missed a game since entering the league back in 2011.

That’s going to be a difficult loss for the Saints to work around. Even if Jordan has regressed this season, New Orleans could still use his help in the rotation. Without him they’re left with only Marcus Davenport, Carl Granderson, and Jalyn Holmes available to suit up. Payton Turner and Tanoh Kpassagnon remain on injured reserve. Hopefully the Saints pass rush is able to heat up without them.

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Cameron Jordan put on COVID-19 reserve after positive test result

Cameron Jordan put on COVID-19 reserve after positive test result

That’s a bummer: New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan was designated to the NFL’s COVID-19 reserve list on Monday following a positive test result, per the NFL daily transactions wire. The Times-Picayune | Advocate’s Amie Just reported that Jordan is fully vaccinated and asymptomatic, meaning he may return to the team as soon as he tests negative on two consecutive days.

But it still puts his status in jeopardy for Sunday’s road game with the New York Jets. Jordan has never missed a game since the Saints selected him out of California way back in the 2011 NFL draft, putting up one of the great iron-man performances in franchise history. Hopefully he’s able to recover quickly and keep his 172-game streak alive.

New Orleans is terribly thin at the position if he can’t go. Carl Granderson and Jalyn Holmes are their only healthy defensive ends with Jordan out; Marcus Davenport has missed time recently with a shoulder injury while Payton Turner and Tanoh Kpassagnon remain on injured reserve.

A group that looked awful strong in the summer has been whittled down to a point where defensive tackles like David Onyemata may have to move outside just to keep the rotation intact. Here’s to a full and speedy recovery for Jordan.

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Cameron Jordan says NFL hit him with random drug test after casual backflip

Cameron Jordan says NFL hit him with random drug test after casual backflip

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Let no good expression of world-class athleticism go unpunished. That’s the lesson Cameron Jordan learned when he received notice from the NFL that he’s been summoned for a random test for performance enhancing drugs, just days after the big New Orleans Saints defensive end was spotted passing on a helping hand from teammate Marcus Williams to roll backwards and flip onto his feet (check it out in the video below).

Jordan’s always-high energy level has been one of his best qualities as a pro, allowing him to continue pressuring quarterbacks late into games during some very long seasons. And acrobatic displays like this at north of 280 pounds (285 to be exact, he’s quick to remind us) help reinforce that.

He has had two sacks in back-to-back games and has benefited from David Onyemata and Marcus Davenport’s return to the lineup. Let’s see what he has in store against Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons, his most favorite opponent to throw to the ground, on Sunday. Ryan has been sacked by Jordan 21 times in 20 games together. That’s an NFL record for the most times a quarterback has been sacked by a single defender. Hopefully Jordan can extend his lead while chasing the elusive century mark (he’s currently up to 96.5 sacks in 167 career regular season games).

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Like it or not, Saints are riding the downslope of Cameron Jordan’s career

Like it or not, Saints are riding the downslope of Cameron Jordan’s career:

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It’s becoming increasingly clear that Cameron Jordan will remain second-best in the New Orleans Saints record books for career sacks. He’s racked up 94.5 takedowns in his long career in black and gold, but he hasn’t found a single sack through the first four games of 2021.

He’s still getting pressures; his 18 defensive pressures rank eighth-most among all defensive linemen, but it’s more a product of him rarely leaving the field. Just five of his peers have seen more snaps (Shaquil Barrett, Aaron Donald, Leonard Floyd, Chase Young, and Sam Hubbard) than he has this season. His pass rush productivity rating from Pro Football Focus is just 6.2, 29th among linemen who have taken 100-plus reps.

Pressures are fine in the same way that popcorn is fine. They’re both empty calories that don’t leave you satisfied. Sacks are one of the most impactful plays a defender can make, between the loss of yards and the very physical rattling it puts on a quarterback. In 2017, Football Outsiders found that just 16% of possessions including a sack went on to find a first down or touchdown. You can pressure a quarterback and still end up with him completing a pass for a big gain.

And we aren’t getting enough of those impact plays from Jordan. His current sacks draught stretches back to Week 16 of last season, when he got just one sack against Kirk Cousins. Then you’ll see three more games without a sack until he got one in that farce of a game with the quarterback-less Broncos. Three of the eight sacks he got last year came in one game with the Falcons, which, at least he picked a high-stakes rivalry game to do it in.

Maybe this is just who Jordan is now. He’s closing in on 10,000 snaps played in the NFL (he’s probably already there; public tracking only goes back to 2012, a year after he entered the league, and Jordan is up to 9,931 snaps on defense and special teams in the regular season and playoffs) and that puts tremendous wear and tear on his body. It makes sense that he’s slowing down and becoming less effective as he ages.

It’s just a shame that the players brought in to replace him haven’t been up to the task. First-round draft picks Marcus Davenport and Payton Turner, and even underrated free agent pickup Tanoh Kpassagnon, have missed time with injuries. Carl Granderson is throwing a lot of spin moves at opposing blockers with little success. Until everyone is healthy and firing on all cylinders, the Saints are stuck in a tough spot by asking a top-30 defensive end to handle a top-5 player’s workload.

That doesn’t mean Jordan is washed up and can’t play. Far from it. He’s a very good run defender and a complimentary pass rusher. He can help almost any defense in this league, which should make him an attractive trade piece next summer when he’s 33 and counting $22.6 million against the salary cap, the fourth-largest cap hit on the team. Only Marshon Lattimore ($27.4 million) and Ryam Ramczyk ($22.8 million) are ahead, but their recent contract extensions were designed with restructures in mind. Michael Thomas ($24.7 million) is also in the mix.

Cutting or trading Jordan early in the offseason won’t be an option; it only saves $1.4 million while leaving a $21.4 million dead money on the books. But doing so after June 1 will create $14.7 million in savings. There’s still an $8.1 million dead money charge in 2022 weighing in, but the bulk of the cap penalties doesn’t factor in until 2023 ($13.2 million, coinciding with a huge rise in the salary cap with new media deals money flooding in, making it more manageable).

There’s still time for Jordan to turn it around. If he starts finishing those plays better and stacking up more sacks instead of hits or hurries, maybe the Saints consider another restructure (saving $8.5 million) or extension in the future so he can finish his career in black and gold. We haven’t seen the defensive line at full strength yet and Jordan should benefit once Davenport and David Onyemata return. Right now he just hasn’t justified his contract.

We just can’t ignore the possibility that Jordan is nearing the end of the line. He’s been everything the Saints could have hoped for when they drafted him way back in 2011. He’s a Pro Bowl regular, a team captain, and a face of the franchise. Seeing him play for another team would be really tough. Losing both him and star left tackle Terron Armstead in the same offseason would be even more difficult. But the post-Drew Brees era in New Orleans is going to be full of changes and tough decisions, and fans should start making their peace with it sooner rather than later.

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Cameron Jordan bemoans being Saints’ shortest defensive end

Cameron Jordan bemoans being Saints’ shortest defensive end

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Cameron Jordan stepped outside for practice one day and found that something was blocking the sun. He looked up, and up, and up before spotting the cause — one of his New Orleans Saints teammates, looming above him.

“I’m officially the shortest defensive end in the locker room at 6-4,” Jordan chuckled to NFL Network’s Brian Baldinger, reclining in a refrigerated trailer after practice. “I’m upset about it.”

Jordan pointed to the offseason’s additions — Tanoh Kpassagnon, who stands nearly 6-foot-7 and Payton Turner, who is a hair taller than the 6-foot-6 Marcus Davenport — as quality pickups who change the unit’s profile. Last year saw Trey Hendrickson make a big impact at 6-foot-4 and 270 pounds, but he’s been replaced by those towering figures. Hendrickson’s former backup Carl Granderston stands 6-foot-5.

The Saints have a type: tall, long-armed defensive ends who can use their size to hold up in run defense. Granderson was the lightest member of the group and even he has bulked up to 277 pounds. It makes sense to double down on heavier, stronger edge players considering the hits New Orleans took along the defensive line.

All three of their top defensive tackles from last season won’t be available for Week 1 (and longer; the only one coming back is David Onyemata, and not until after the bye week). The Saints may need Jordan and his teammates to slide inside on occasion, where that added muscle mass could benefit.

But size isn’t everything. As Jordan said, he isn’t the biggest guy in the room — or the strongest, fastest, or otherwise most athletic. His hard work in refining his craft to develop pass-rush moves is what’s gotten him so close to notching 100 career sacks. Maybe his teammates can learn a thing or two from him.

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Drew Brees kicks off Season 2 of Mark Ingram and Cameron Jordan’s podcast

Truss Levelz: Drew Brees joins Cameron Jordan, Mark Ingram’s podcast

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The second season of Mark Ingram and Cameron Jordan’s “Truss Levelz” podcast from the Players’ Tribune is starting off with a bang, and their biggest guest yet: Drew Brees, their former New Orleans Saints teammate.

Ingram welcomed “Drew Breezy” to their show, which you can listen to here.

“I’ve always wanted to do that,” Brees laughed. “I appreciate it. Finally, I get my chance.”

Last season’s guests included Alvin Kamara, Demario Davis, and opponents like Mike Evans, and that familiarity helps Ingram and Jordan casually guide surprisingly wide-ranging discussions. Brees spoke at length on his background in Texas high school football culture and his experience as a college recruit, and how that differed for him a generation or two removed from Ingram and Jordan’s own paths to the NFL.

Of course they also got some digs in at Brees’ beloved Jimmy John’s sandwiches, and reflected on locker room tournaments of Super Smash Bros. The Saints have enjoyed very tight bonds of friendship in recent years, and it’s because of the relationships Brees was able to cultivate with teammates like Ingram and Jordan.

It’s also easy to see how Brees could find success in broadcasting; his energy and expertise of the game shines in this interview, and it should serve him well calling Notre Dame football games for NBC Sports later this year. If he’s as comfortable in that role as he was chopping it up with Jordan and Ingram, he’ll do well. There’s a chance he could call the next Super Bowl in the Superdome, but that’s years away.

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