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Saints' defense gives fans hint of hope

The SportsXchange

METAIRIE, La. -- After the disastrous 2012 season, the New Orleans Saints are looking for any improvement from a defense that gave up more yards in a season -- by far -- than any other team in NFL history.

The Saints turned the page on that historically-bad season long ago when Sean Payton fired defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, and the team's familiar 4-3 scheme as well, and hired Rob Ryan to bring in the 3-4.

On Saturday, excited Saints fans saw what they hope was just a glimpse of things to come when Ryan unveiled a defense that pressured the quarterback and created turnovers Saturday in the annual Black and Gold Scrimmage.

The defense had five sacks and three takeaways in the 64-play controlled scrimmage, delighting Payton and Ryan -- along with 5,123 fans who stood in line for hours to get into the Saints' training facility for the workout.

When Saints outside linebacker Junior Galette drove in to work, he got all the inspiration he needed for a scrimmage that capped the first 10 days of training camp as the line of spectators waiting to get in stretched nearly a quarter-mile past the facility.

"To have such strong fans, that's a blessing," Galette said. "When I saw that coming in, I said, 'Man, I got to have a monster day.' "

Galette and his teammates did that.

The four-year veteran recorded two of the five sacks, a welcomed sign after the Saints ranked near the bottom of the league last season, and was active when he was on the field with the starting defense.

They also came up with two interceptions and a fumble, while the offense managed just two touchdowns -- one by the No. 1 offense and one by the third team against the second- and third-team defenses.

"I was pleased with the turnovers," Payton said. "That's something we have been emphasizing. I thought they took advantage of those snaps.

"I thought we rushed the passer well, at times, and probably got into some long-yardage situations a little bit too much for us, offensively. I was pleased with that element (defensively)."

"I think we got a few stops against one of the best quarterbacks in the league," said Galette, who made the switch from a 4-3 defensive end to a 3-4 outside linebacker this spring. "I think we looked pretty good, but there is always room for (improvement).

"Our players played well and they played hard. It wasn't perfect, but there's never a perfect scrimmage. I was happy with the way we played. ... We got turnovers and we played hard."

--Team correspondents for The Sports Xchange contributed material for this story.
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