The New Orleans Saints can use plenty more of what Hau'oli Kikaha gave them in limited action on Sunday.
Kikaha, who is coming off of a 2016 sophomore season that was lost to injury, played just nine snaps, but he registered a quarterback hit, a tackle-for-loss and an eye-popping sack of Tom Brady.
Facing off against Patriots veteran Nate Solder, Kikaha blew past the tackle on the outside and swarmed Brady in a flash for his first sack since an Oct. 15, 2015 game against the Falcons, prompting Sean Payton to say the team needs to find more ways to get him involved.
"He gives you an edge presence, and the one thing he can do is bend," Payton said. "Typically, with Tom, it's hard to get to him outside, because he does such a good job of climbing the pocket. ... Hopefully, we can continue to get that kind of production and keep working ways for him to be involved in the pressure."
Kikaha, who said the sack felt "amazing," was frustrated on Monday that he'd also made a mental error during Sunday's performance.
"That's not good at all," Kikaha said. "No excuse for those, I've got to fix it."
Other than that error, Kikaha gave Solder some problems off of the blind side, the kind of pressure the Saints need opposite Cam Jordan.
Kikaha has been learning how to deal with a situational role early this season. So far, the 2015 second-round pick has played just 25 snaps, or 17.7 percent, in two games.
New Orleans values his speed off the edge in its "sub-rush," but the Saints also want to keep some wear and tear off his body, and veteran Alex Okafor has played most of the snaps on running downs.
"It's difficult to not be in a rhythm, go in there and be at your personal best, but that's the case for so many other players," Kikaha said. "There's no excuse, but it is a challenge."
The mental side of the role is the hardest part. Pass rushers engage in a chess match with the lineman across from them, setting up moves and feeling out weaknesses as the game progresses, so Kikaha has put a premium on film study and observational study.
"You try to put yourself in the person of the front of you, their shoes, or whoever's in going against that tackle, how is he responding to certain rushes," Kikaha said. "It's something that takes a lot more focus, preparation and being intentional with whatever plan you have."