By now, fans of the New Orleans Saints are familiar with rookie safety Kenny Vaccaro. The dynamic, energetic and explosive young defender made a name for himself early in training camp with his physical and in-your-face style of play. It didn’t matter who he was defending or tackling, he was going at them 100 percent all of the time.
Since having been picked 15th overall in the 2013 NFL Draft by the Saints, Vaccaro has gone on to play virtually every single defensive snap this season and is second only to linebacker Curtis Lofton in terms of solo tackles, with 55 total for the season. He also has one sack, one interception and one forced fumble to his credit.
This week, defensive coordinator Rob Ryan spoke highly of Vaccaro, saying:
“The thing with Kenny… To me, the best free safety in the league is that kid (Earl) Thomas in Seattle, but the best safety in the league that does everything is Kenny. He can cover receivers, he covers tight ends by himself, (and) he makes tackles. You don’t see guys tackling like this guys does, I mean he tackles. He can do everything. He’s really smart. We put him in all of these multiple positions because he can handle it. We got a special guy there, and he’s a special player. He’s as good as anybody in this league, and he’s a rookie so he’s only getting better. Does he have a special talent to be able to cover people? There’s no question he does. Does he love the game? Probably more than any young player I’ve seen come out in a long time. This guy is going to be fantastic for a long time.”
That is pretty high praise coming from an established, well known name on the defensive side of the ball.
Against the St. Louis Rams, Vaccaro is likely to continue his versatile role. The Rams have a young play maker on their team, wide receiver Tavon Austin, and he and Vacarro were once opponents in the Big 12 Conference in college — Austin played at West Virginia and Vaccaro played at Texas.
Austin is questionable this week, however, with an ankle injury and did not participate in any practices this week with the Rams, and his game status is questionable. If Austin is a no-go, look for Ryan to use Vaccaro in various ways, as the Saints look to stay sharp on the road in a stadium they lost in just two years ago.