Haralson excels doing non-glamourous run defense for Saints _lowres

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS Saints linebacker Parys Haralson worksduring training camp Sunday in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.

Not in the NFL. Not in college. Not in high school.

But there he was, lining up in front of running back Khiry Robinson on first-and-goal from the 2 in the second quarter, running to his left and shielding defensive end Kroy Biermann as Robinson powered into the end zone.

“They told me to just block color,” said Haralson, a nine-year veteran who made 30 tackles with 3 ½ sacks for the Saints last year. “The first color that showed, I think I blocked. We scored the touchdown, so that’s all that mattered.”

It not only was Harrison’s first time on offense in a game. He said the Saints never even practiced with him at fullback until Thursday.

“It was fun,” he said. “Sometimes you have to go out there and do whatever you have to do to try to help the team win. I’d never done it before, but that’s what they asked me to do.”

Haralson was less effective on his next snap, a 2-yard loss by Robinson on first-and-goal from the 1 late in regulation. He went back to the sideline for second down, and Mark ingram scored to put the Saints ahead briefly.

Saints coach Sean Payton said the Saints opted for Haralson instead of fullback Austin Johnson, a fellow Tennessee alum, because of his size. Haralson, at 255 pounds, is 15 pounds heavier than Johnson.

“There’s going to be a dozen goal line snaps in a season, and it was just a decision we made based on the team we were playing,” Payton said. “You might go three weeks and not be in a goal-line sequence. He did a good job for those two plays, and we’ll have him ready.”

Johnson, who was on the Saints practice squad for most of 2013, said he had no complaints about Haralson getting the goal-line opportunity instead of him. Sunday was Johnson’s first NFL game.

“They wanted a bigger guy in there,” he said. “That’s how it goes. I just take my role whenever I can get it. I’m fighting every day.”

Robinson, who scored his second career touchdown, praised Haralson’s effort but could not resist tweaking him a little bit, too.

“It was kind of fun having a big d-lineman in front of me blocking at the goal line,” he said. “He has athleticism, and that’s what you have to have to play both ways. But it’s not too hard to go block one guy that’s two times smaller than you.”