Veteran James Anderson leads Saints in tackles in first start in nearly two years _lowres


When Dannell Ellerbe wasn’t able to take the field on Sunday, the Saints decided to turn to veteran James Anderson, the sixth player to handle significant snaps at the Will linebacker position this season, even though three of the position’s previous occupants were available.

Anderson hadn’t started a game since the 2013 season finale.

But the 32-year-old linebacker came up with 11 tackles in 76 snaps, the most he’s played since a 12-tackle performance for Chicago against Green Bay.

“Probably in about two years,” Anderson said. “But I was on autopilot. Once I got back on the field, I got right back into the zone.”

Anderson got a little bit of juice from playing against the franchise where he spent the first seven years of his career, including four years as a regular starter.

The performance proved to Anderson that he can still play after bouncing from New England to Tennessee to Atlanta to Dallas and finally landing in New Orleans over the past two seasons.

“Nothing goes great when you lose a game,” Anderson said. “But I think I flew around.”

Ellerbe is close to returning, so Anderson’s role may decrease again on Sunday against Tampa Bay.

All Anderson can do is keep working and get ready in case he’s needed.

“I take it day by day, and the weeks add up at the end,” Anderson said. “We’ll see where we end up Sunday.”