The Saints want Kenny Vaccaro doing work near the line of scrimmage.
He’ll continue to play to serve as a strong safety and play deep in Cover 2 looks. But whenever possible, New Orleans wants him playing in the box or covering receivers out of the slot.
“He does a very good job as a pressure player and I think his ability to track and tackle has gotten a lot better,” coach Sean Payton said. “I think we just have to keep looking for ways to bring him down in the box.”
That’s where Vaccaro spent most of his time against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 1 when New Orleans employed single-high looks. He was effective in run support and had one blitz that nearly led to a Brandon Browner interception.
The safety also spent some time covering the slot, where he successfully defended two passes. Payton said the Saints will pick their spots and use Vaccaro in the slot at times this season.
“That is something that we will continue to utilize in some weeks maybe more than others,” Payton said.
Vaccaro covered the slot 156 times as a rookie during the 2013 season, according to Pro Football Focus. He allowed 20 receptions on 29 targets for 152 yards.
He only covered it 108 times last season, allowing 10 receptions on 13 targets. However, his 68.4 quarterback rating against ranked seventh in the NFL among cornerbacks who spent 100 or more snaps covering the slot.
Rookie Damian Swann served as the primary nickelback against the Cardinals in Week 1. He allowed four receptions on five targets for 34 yards.