SaintsBucs.122516_015

New Orleans Saints defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins (98) sacks Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) in the Superdome in New Orleans, La. Saturday, Dec. 24, 2016.

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON

A New Orleans Saints defense that has put a lot of pressure on opposing quarterbacks by blitzing this season has been victimized a couple of times the past two weeks by passers who bring the ball down and run.

Green Bay's Brett Hundley ripped off a 22-yard run and scored on a 14-yard scramble two weeks ago, and Chicago rookie Mitch Trubisky ripped off a 46-yard scramble against an all-out blitz last week. 

Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston has some of the same ability to Houdini his way out of a collapsing pocket, presenting an added challenge in facing the Buccaneers' No. 2-ranked passing game Sunday. 

"Once that gets on tape, our defensive line coach always harps, you want to take it off the tape," defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins said. "They've seen the past couple weeks we've given up some quarterback runs, so I assume that if push comes to shove and they feel like they can do it on us, they will. It's up to us to stop them."

Winston hasn't been much of a runner this season so far. He has only 13 carries in seven games, and he's picked up 43 yards.

But that doesn't mean he can't hurt a team with his legs.

"If you open up a lane, he'll get 8, 10, 12 yards," strong safety Kenny Vaccaro said. "I've seen him do it. He'll slide, he'll take those yards all day."

Winston is also dangerous because he's more likely to escape the pocket and buy time to get receivers open downfield, which can lead to big plays. 

"Jameis' ability, even going back to when I played him in college, that's always been one of his calling cards, his escapability," defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins said. "You think you've got him bottled up, but he's able to slide through this space, that space and create big plays."

The onus is largely on the Saints defensive line to keep opposing quarterbacks in the pocket. With New Orleans blitzing often, the secondary is often in man-to-man coverage, which means the defensive backs shouldn't have their eyes in the backfield. 

The key is that once a quarterback breaks the pocket, the secondary has to be able to recognize it quickly enough to keep the gain to a mere first down, rather than Trubisky's 46-yard scramble. 

"You see it happening pretty much every game, if the quarterbacks make the decision they can run; some quarterbacks just won't do it," Vaccaro said. "It can't be a 46-yard scamper, it's got to be a 10 to 12-yard thing."

But the problems that Trubisky or Hundley presented aren't the same problems Winston will present. Tampa Bay's passing game is its primary weapon, unlike Chicago's, and the Saints likely won't be focused on the running game as much. 

"There's different types of games, different types of schemes, different types of rushes," rookie defensive end Trey Hendrickson said. "I think we really hit on that today, and I think we have a good plan for him."

Follow Joel A. Erickson on Twitter, @JoelAErickson.