In terms of team success, Malcom Brown couldn’t have been in a better situation during his first four NFL seasons in New England. A veteran of three Super Bowls already at age 25, the fifth-year defensive tackle has played in more big games than several entire locker rooms during his time in the league.
But winning isn’t always everything, and though the Saints have had their healthy share of victories over the past couple seasons, one of the team’s free agent additions on the defensive line saw beyond the opportunity of continuing his winning ways when deciding to move his family of six to the Crescent City back in March.
“I just love it. It was a defense where I knew I could have fun, and I really like having fun out there on the field, so it seemed very intriguing,” Brown said Thursday after the completion of the team’s second week of OTAs. “It just makes everything easier.”
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With Brown included, the Saints’ defensive line will look markedly different when the unit trots out for the first series on Monday Night Football in Week 1 at the Superdome against the Houston Texans, compared to its makeup entering last season’s playoff run. Most notably, Sheldon Rankins will still be in the midst of a long rehab process stemming from his torn Achilles he suffered during the team’s divisional round playoff victory over the Eagles on Jan. 13.
New Orleans also lost fellow defensive tackle Tyeler Davison to the Falcons in free agency, and a third tackle, David Onyemata, may miss the open of the season due to a drug citation this offseason for allegedly having marijuana delivered to his home. Defensive end Alex Okafor also signed a three-year deal with the Chiefs this offseason.
But one of the team’s stalwarts of the unit, defensive end Cameron Jordan, was a major reason why Brown saw the Saints as such an enticing option, despite the turnover. As a two-time Super Bowl champ, the team’s new addition said he’s found himself being able to find another level during OTAs with Jordan as a teammate.
“He’s a very energetic guy. Even when you’re getting tired, it makes you feel bad, cause he’s still running around,” Brown chuckled.
The question was about his personal goals, not the team goals.
In Rankins, Onyemata, Okafor and Davison, the Saints picked up 18.5 sacks a year ago while combining for 134 of the unit’s 221 tackles, but in Brown, as well as fellow top-40 selection Mario Edwards from the 2015 NFL Draft, the Saints bring in a bevy of young talent to try and piece together another dominant group.
So far, Saints defensive line coach Ryan Nielsen coach said he’s liked what he’s seen.
“I love their work ethic,” the coach said of Brown and Edwards. “They come here and grind and want to get better and love football and are great teammates. I’m very excited to have these guys as part of the group.”
About Brown particularly, Nielsen said the defensive tackle’s championship pedigree played a role in the franchise’s eagerness to offer the Texas alum a three-year, $15 million contract this offseason. But the coach said you wouldn’t know Brown was an owner of two championship rings from watching him work during the first two weeks of OTAs. The postseason success hasn’t taken away Brown’s grit, Nielsen said.
Brown knows the frustration of losing a Super Bowl, too, with the Patriots’ 41-33 defeat by the Eagles in 2018, and he was a key part of the team’s redemption process. After the Saints’ gutting loss to the Rams in the NFC title game in January, that experience could be key as a newcomer.
“When we get into the season, we are going to lean on him for that, but we’re not there yet,” Nielsen said. “Right now, it’s just the workman-like attitude and getting better everyday and focusing on fundamentals.”