Stephone Anthony is fine with making the shift.
The addition of James Laurinaitis means Anthony will likely end up moving to strongside linebacker after serving as the middle linebacker as a rookie last season. And he’s fine with it.
“It kind of makes my job easier,” Anthony said. “I’m enjoying it.”
Serving as the middle linebacker, Anthony was responsible for calling plays in the huddle and getting players lined up. By moving to strongside, those responsibilities will no longer be on his plate. The move will allow him to focus more on making plays.
He said he’s comfortable at either spot, though there is a bit of an adjustment.
“You can’t see as much but it’s a different game,” Anthony said when asked about the differences between the two positions. “You can’t see as much, but it’s more of a point-of-attack game. It’s something I got to get used to.”
Coach Sean Payton has said that he expects Anthony to play on the strongside this season, but he has also been getting repetitions on the weakside during organized team activities. He said the coaching staff called him during the offseason and told him to prepare for a shift.
Anthony said he likes that the move will free him up a little bit more to do some different things. One area where he might be more active is in blitz packages.
“It’s going to show the different things I can do,” Anthony said. “I’m going to have some fun with it and make the best of it.”
Anthony said he’s been studying film to prepare himself for the move. He’s also eager to get on the field with Laurinitias, who he said will help alleviate some of the pressure on the linebackers.
“He’s a great asset for this team,” Anthony said. “The way he communicates, the way he gets guys lined up is going to help us a ton.”
Brees talks contract
Drew Brees would love to get a long-term contract extension done before the season starts.
But if Brees can’t come to terms with the Saints, the quarterback is prepared to go into the season with the spectre of free agency looming, the same way he did in 2011.
“I’d love a long-term deal to get done, something that would lock me up for the rest of my career,” Brees said at the Saints’ annual charity softball game on Wednesday night. “I plan on playing for a few more years, and obviously, I expect them to be here. I’m not stressing about it at all, honestly. I haven’t given it a whole lot of thought since we were talking about it, maybe a month and a half or two (ago).”
Brees briefly talked about finishing the contract extension when former Panthers cornerback Josh Norman became available in free agency, but the Saints and Brees have not discussed an extension since then.
New Orleans still has an entire summer to re-sign Brees.
But if the season begins and Brees hasn’t signed a long-term extension, he does not plan to continue talks during the Saints’ season.
“I don’t like to talk about contract during the season. If you go back to 2011, where it began to drag into the season, three weeks in I was like, I don’t want to deal with it anymore, I want to focus on football, I want to focus on the season,” Brees said. “There’s a deal to be done now, and if it doesn’t get done now, then there’ll be a different deal to get done at the end of the year.”
Hightower ready to roll
Tim Hightower is entering this season with a different mindset.
When he arrived here last season, he was a guy trying to make a roster and prove that he was still capable of playing the game after battling a lengthy knee injury.
This year, he feels a little bit more secure. He still needs to keep his spot on the team and prove that he’s better than the other running backs on the roster, but now he knows that he can play and knows how to better assert himself in the locker room.
“I can actually use my veteran experience to my advantage from the standpoint of I want to win,” Hightower said. “I saw some things last year, you don’t know where or what’s your role. You don’t want to step on anyone’s toes. You don’t know when’s the right time to say something, if you should address something.
“I think this year, not necessarily being a yelling guy in the locker room, but knowing when and how to address things.”