Damian Swann’s versatility to play both cornerback and safety has provided the Saints with a safety net in the event of an emergency.
The rookie wasn’t tapped last week when Rafael Bush was knocked out of the game with a season-ending chest injury. The team instead turned to strong safety Jamarca Sanford to fill the void. That doesn’t mean things will stay the same next time.
The Saints continue to be intrigued by Swann’s ability to play both safety and cornerback, something he did during his time at Georgia.
“Swann did it in college and as pretty good at it,” defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said.
The Saints brought back Kenny Phillips to play free safety after releasing him in advance of last week’s game against the Arizona Cardinals. Jairus Byrd has not practice this week due to a knee injury.
Stepping back to play safety is not a natural transition for a cornerback. There are a lot of differences between the two positions and many nuances that need to be conquered, though the Saints spend time during the season preparing for those situations.
“The first thing would be tell me what you’re playing defensively with regard to the free safety position,” coach Sean Payton said. “If it’s not what you’ve been getting a lot of work at there’s some nuances to it that you got to get quickly acclimated with. If that were the case, you hope that you have a plan in that allows a new player to excel or have a chance to excel.”
Swann’s ability to play both positions has been a source of intrigue since the Saints drafted him in May. Even without an emergency, there could come a time when New Orleans decides to tap into his versatility.
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