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Hebert praises "opportunistic" Saints defense, clutch performance from Ginn

"If Ted Ginn doesn't come back, the Saints maybe don't beat the Steelers."

December 24, 2018 - 3:55 pm
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By: Jordan Fiegel

The New Orleans Saints once again played complementary football en route to 31-28 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. The defense forced two turnovers, both in the 4th quarter, bringing their total to 11 in the past 5 games. Bobby Hebert is is thrilled with how they're playing right now.

“They're more opportunistic. You work on drills to punch out the football; and when you actually do that in a game, it's very rewarding.”

The defense was giving up a lot of yards – they had allowed 426 yards by the end – but “That's just goes to show how you can be struggling in a game as far as giving up yards – and, look, the secondary was struggling,” Hebert said. “And then, all of a sudden, you're making a play to help win you the game. The defense has stepped up as of late and is taking advantage of opportunities.”

The offense, though it sputtered at times against Pittsburgh, also took advantage of its opportunities in the end. David Onyemata and Craig Robertson helped foil the Steelers fake punt and gave the offense the ball on the Pittsburgh 46 yard line.

In the ensuing touchdown drive, wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. made a clutch 25 yard reception on 3rd and 20 to help set up the game-winning touchdown. Hebert had high praise for the veteran.

“I think if Ted Ginn doesn't come back, the Saints maybe don't beat the Steelers,” said Hebert. “That's how big of an impact he had.”

Ginn was targeted 8 times for 5 receptions and 74 yards. His 8 targets were the second most on the team, behind only Michael Thomas.

“You could feel that veteran presence,” Hebert went on. “He's just a playmaker. I know Drew trusts him, and it can't always be all about Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara. The young receivers like [Keith] Kirkwood and Tre'Quan Smith can learn from him, too.”

With contributions from numerous players on both sides the ball, Hebert described it as a good team win. The Saints sit at 13-2 and have clinched the #1 seed in the NFC, guaranteeing them homefield advantage in the playoffs. Since everything is locked up, will Drew Brees play at all against Carolina?

“I don't think so. Why would he even play a series? Drew's a veteran; he's not going to be rusty. I think he would welcome the basically three weeks off, especially since you're still practicing. Why take a chance? You want to be as fresh as you can for the postseason.”

This brought Hebert to the debate around roster sizes. Teams have a 53 man roster, and only 46 players can be active on game days.

“This is why you need expanded rosters. You have limited rosters right now. People say, “Just play the back-ups” for these games. Well, no, you don't have enough back-ups. It's not like the preseason. You can probably rest a handful of guys like Sean Payton said. In the next CBA, I could see expanded game day rosters and also just expanded rosters in general.”

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