Galette, Jordan emerging as top sack tandem

Saints outside linebacker Junior Galette lived with an aunt in

Haiti until age 10 before reuniting with his parents in a New York

suburb, and in his own words, ”came from nothing.”

Cameron Jordon was practically born into the NFL – a child of

privilege whose father played tight end for the Minnesota

Vikings.

As defensive teammates in New Orleans, they complement each

other rather well, emerging this season as one of the most

effective pass-rushing tandems in the NFL.

”I respect what Cam has done to get here,” Galette said after

Thursday’s practice, reflecting on his and Jordan’s divergent paths

to pro football. ”I came from nothing, but in some ways it’s

harder when you know you always have someone to support you. He was

able to stay motivated.”

Jordan, who is 6-foot-4, 287 pounds, played four years at the

University of California before the Saints selected him in the

first round – 24th overall – of the 2011 draft.

After Jordan finished last season with eight sacks, the Saints

hoped he’d emerge as an elite pass-rushing end in 2013.

He has 11 1/2 sacks so far this season, making him the first

Saints player since Will Smith in 2009 to surpass 10.

Galette isn’t far behind – with nine – as the Saints (10-3)

prepare to travel to St. Louis (5-8) on Sunday.

”Both of them have good motors,” Saints coach Sean Payton

said. ”Those two guys have really stepped up and given us

consistent pressure. Sometimes it may not result in sacks.

Sometimes it may result in a hurry that results in an incompletion.

On third down, that’s (getting the defense) off the field.”

With 20 1/2 sacks combined, Jordan and Galette represent the

second-most productive sack tandem in the NFL.

The only teammates to combine for more sacks this season are

Kansas City’s Justin Houston and Tamba Hali, who each have 11.

While Jordan was a returning starter, it wasn’t clear last

offseason how prominent of a role the 6-2, 258-pound Galette would

have in his fourth pro season.

With the Saints switching to a 3-4 front under new defensive

coordinator Rob Ryan, Galette was moved from end to outside

linebacker, but still was expected to be an edge pass-rusher,

rotating in to spell projected starter Will Smith.

That changed when Smith had a season-ending knee injury in the

preseason.

Now Galette, who was undrafted in 2010, is making the Saints’

scouting department look pretty good.

Galette had started his college career at Temple, spending three

seasons there, but was dismissed when a relative staying with him

was caught with stolen property. He finished his college career at

Division II Stillman.

”He’s obviously come a long way,” Payton said. ”He was a free

agent we looked closely at. We saw speed and athleticism in the

player. … Where he’s at now is because he had a vision and he

worked extremely hard.”

Galette became increasingly optimistic about this season shortly

after Ryan was hired.

”When Rob got here, he actually called me. He said he’s looking

at this film and didn’t really know who I was before. And he was

like, `Wow, you can be special,”’ Galette recalled. ”I’m like,

`Man, this guy’s just building my confidence up.”’

In New Orleans’ 31-13 victory over Carolina last Sunday night,

the Saints sacked Cam Newton five times. Galette was credited with

three and Jordan two.

Galette said he and Jordan sensed early on that they could cause

havoc together in opposing offensive backfields, and shared the

belief since the season started they would combine for 20 sacks or

more.

”We knew it was going to happen. Like, we called it,” Galette

said. ”We knew that (Jordan) has the power and all the skill set

to beat any tackle in this league. And I come off the edge with

speed and push the pocket.”

Galette and Jordan say credit for their production goes in no

small part to the Saints interior linemen for compressing the

pocket, as well as to those in pass coverage for giving them the

time to get to the quarterback. But middle linebacker Curtis Lofton

said Galette and Jordan have been exceptional.

”They have taken steps toward being a very good or even special

pass rushers,” Lofton said. ”They have all the moves – a bull

rush, speed rush, spin move. They have a counter to whoever is

going to try to block them.”

Notes: TE Josh Hill (hamstring), S Rafael Bush (ankle) and LB

Keyunta Dawson (calf) missed practice. … DE Glenn Foster (knee)

and DT Brodrick Bunkley (back) were limited.