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Stephone Anthony
METAIRIE, La. -- The New Orleans Saints have placed linebacker Stephone Anthony on injured reserve, coach Sean Payton said Tuesday, ending a disappointing season for the 2015 first-round draft pick.

Anthony, who started every game at middle linebacker as a rookie and led the Saints with 112 tackles, was demoted this year and barely played, even when healthy.

He appeared in only 10 games with a total of 16 tackles; he was inactive last week with an unspecified knee injury that is not believed to be major.

This sets up 2017 as a make-or-break year for the former Clemson standout, who was acquired with the 31st pick in last year's draft as part of the trade that sent Jimmy Graham to the Seattle Seahawks.

The Saints (6-8) could use as much young talent as they can get on a defense that has ranked among the NFL's worst over the past three years -- though it has finally started to climb out of the cellar over the past two months.
Saints linebacker Stephone Anthony made only 16 tackles this season after leading the team with 112 in 2015. Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire

Payton was candid last week when he talked about the read-and-recognition issues that have held Anthony back.

"He's explosive, he's disruptive and yet his key-and-diagnose and his instincts at times are off," Payton said last week. "It's run, and he's dropping back in a pass mode. Or it's pass, and he's at the line of scrimmage. His ability to see and diagnose some very simple reads, for instance, are the keys for him getting better. ...

"That's been the thing that's kept him back. And quite honestly, it's kept him back on special teams [too]. Because a player like him who is on special teams, if he's covering a kick or covering a punt, generally a guy that can run and hit shows up. And he's been, I would say, just OK in that area."

Anthony said last week that Payton's criticism is fair.

"I think every player goes through, I guess, a growth stage. Sometimes every linebacker can have a misread. But it's just the little things I gotta get better at," Anthony said. "So I think Coach Payton was right on."

The Saints tried moving Anthony from middle linebacker to strongside linebacker this offseason so he could feature his athleticism without being in the position to relay in the play calls or make adjustments at the line of scrimmage.

Anthony struggled at the unfamiliar "Sam" linebacker position, though, and played better in Week 14 against Tampa Bay when he was thrust back into the starting middle linebacker role as an injury replacement for Craig Robertson.

Payton said the Saints are not yet sure what position Anthony will play in the future.

"I think it's something that, obviously, the sooner, the better we can sort out," Payton said. "I was encouraged with the [Week 14 performance]. That's what he has to keep working on."

The Saints used the vacant roster spot to sign receiver Corey Fuller off the Detroit Lions' practice squad.
Payton's losing it in New Orleans. The fans don't get the whole deal with Anthony, especially when his supposed replacement at MLB fell on his face, too. Sometimes, it's a case of tinkering for the sake of tinkering. It's noble of Anthony to take ownership, but the fact is, this is on management and/or scheme. The Saints are looking a lot like their early years by the day.
Uncle Salty     "...while beggars can't be choosers, choosers rarely have to be beggars."
His read and react couldn't have been that bad to lead the team with 112 tackles as a rookie.
So let him play MLB and have someone else make the play calls and adjustments.
(12-20-2016, 10:52 PM)fhellandjr Wrote: So let him play MLB and have someone else make the play calls and adjustments.

Seemed rather logical, right?
Uncle Salty     "...while beggars can't be choosers, choosers rarely have to be beggars."
And if they play a 3-4, you've got two inside backers....problem solved.



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