WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — Here are some things you might not know about Saints linebacker Ramon Humber:
He made the Indianapolis Colts as an undrafted rookie out of North Dakota State in 2009 and played on special teams in Super Bowl XLVII against the Saints, where, to his regret, he was not able to get his hands on the ball during “Ambush,” the onside kick that gave the Saints a momentum-changing possession at the start of the second half.
He has been waived twice, by the Colts in 2010 and by the Saints in 2011.
He was suspended for three games in 2012 for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.
He is listed at 5-foot-11, making him officially the only Saints linebacker under six foot. At 232 pounds, he’s also the lightest.
Monday is his 28th birthday.
He was originally signed by the Saints on Dec. 1, 2010, making him, now that Junior Galette has departed, the team’s longest-tenured defensive player.
Bet you didn’t get that last one. But Humber knew.
“I realized that when Junior was cut,” he said after Thursday’s practice at the Greenbrier. “A lot of guys have come and gone, but I’m still here.
“I don’t think I would have expected to turn out that way, but I’m very happy and fortunate that it did.”
That’s Humber — a humble, yet proud seven-year veteran now, six of them with the Saints. who have completely turned over the defensive side of the roster since that day nearly five years ago when the Saints signed him, letting go of Sean Canfield, who, until Garrett Grayson was taken in the third round this year, was the only quarterback drafted in the Sean Payton/Drew Brees era.
A week later, the Saints signed another linebacker, eight-year veteran Kawika Mitchell. He played one game, his last in the NFL.
Jon Vilma, Scott Shanle, Jonathan Casillas, Galette and Curtis Lofton, to name a few others from just Humber’s position, have departed since then.
Humber was once nearly among that number himself. He was waived in the final cut in 2011, but brought him back three weeks later when injuries hit the linebacker corps.
So Humber, who has 12 starts in 60 games with the Saints, half of them last season, but who mostly plays on special teams, has endured.
He even has a two-year contract this season, the first of his career.
“Ramon is a smart veteran who is very athletic and very quick, which serves him well in the kicking game,” coach Sean Payton said. “Because he’s so smart, he can play on all four special teams, which is something that really increases his value.
“All of that translates into his doing so many things well at linebacker as well.”
And yet, they keep bringing in candidates to take Humber’s roster spot, either on special teams, at a backup linebacker spot or both.
Stephone Anthony and Hau’oli Kikaha are high draft picks. Dannell Ellerbe and Anthony Spencer are veterans with more credentials.
And there are hungry youngsters like Marcus Pierce-Brewster and Jerry Franklin, who are in the same spot Humber once found himself.
He’s willing to give them advice to them, though.
“I tell the young guys you have to learn every linebacker position and learn every special teams job,” said Humber, who was a special teams co-captain last season. “But you also see some guys trying to burst on the scene coming out of college.
“Be patient and don’t try to grasp it all on the first day because it’s not easy. Take the little things and try to improve each day.”
Humber also hasn’t given up on his goal of being a starter, although he acknowledges special teams play is what got him into the league to begin with and is what primarily keeps him there now.
“I don’t think I feel any more secure about having a roster spot wrapped up today than I did when I was a rookie,” he said. “It’s a business, and I know someday I won’t be part of this team anymore.
“But if it doesn’t work out here, then I’m going to make it work out with some other team.”
Humber isn’t seeing that happening anytime soon, though.
“They know what kind of player I am,” he said. “What I bring to the table is someone who gives it 110 percent every play and every down and that always holds himself accountable.”
So here’s another thing you might not know about Ramon Humber.
While he’s far from the most prominent player on the team, when the Saints 53-man roster is set in September, his name is going to be on it.