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NFL New Orleans Saints

Top 5 Defensive Players to Watch For at New Orleans Saints Training Camp

5 Defensive Players to Watch at New Orleans Saints Training Camp

rob ryan new orleans saints
Stew Milne- USA Today Sports

Whether they're new faces, players returning from injury or just guys who are looking to take their game to the next level, Rob Ryan's unit is full of outstanding talent. That superb defense was something special to witness last season, but they seek to improve. With training camp set to kick off, let's take a look at five defensive players to watch for when the New Orleans Saints begin their preseason practices.

5. CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste

stanley jean-baptiste new orleans saints
Derick E. Hingle- USA Today Sports

5. CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste

stanley jean-baptiste new orleans saints
Derick E. Hingle- USA Today Sports

A 6-foot-3 converted wide receiver just like Richard Sherman, Stanley Jean-Baptiste screams shutdown potential. At a position loaded with depth, the rookie CB will certainly be challenged. His height, ball skills and change of direction will suit him well in the NFL, but training camp is the first step. The Saints drafted him with hopes of eventually starting him opposite Keenan Lewis. That may not happen this year, but he could be the future.

4. CB Champ Bailey

champ bailey new orleans saints
Mark J. Rebilas- USA Today Sports

4. CB Champ Bailey

champ bailey new orleans saints
Mark J. Rebilas- USA Today Sports

We all know what Champ Bailey is capable of, but the concern is whether or not he can still perform at a high level at 36 years old. The 12-time Pro Bowl CB has certainly lost a step or two, but he can still be a factor as a starter on that Saints defense. Don't just watch him for his on-field performance -- look and see how he impacts some of the younger guys around him with his veteran leadership and experience.

3. OLB Victor Butler

victor butler new orleans saints
Derick E. Hingle- USA Today Sports

3. OLB Victor Butler

victor butler new orleans saints
Derick E. Hingle- USA Today Sports

Victor Butler will be looking to bounce back after missing all of 2013 with a torn ACL. Rob Ryan brought the linebacker with him from Dallas in hopes of inflicting more pressure on opposing quarterbacks. A battle is brewing as Butler will be competing with Parys Harlason to reclaim his role opposite Junior Galette. The kid has got the talent to be a superb pass rusher, so he will be somebody to observe when camp gets underway.

2. FS Jairus Byrd

jairus byrd new orleans saints
Timothy T. Ludwig- USA Today Sports

2. FS Jairus Byrd

jairus byrd new orleans saints
Timothy T. Ludwig- USA Today Sports

The Saints made one of the top free agent acquisitions in the NFL this offseason by snatching up Jairus Byrd. Since entering the league in 2009, he leads all free safeties with 22 interceptions. He could become a staple of that defense, so it will be exciting to see if he can continue his All-Pro success in a black and gold uniform.

1. SS Kenny Vaccaro

kenny vaccaro new orleans saints
Derick E. Hingle- USA Today Sports

1. SS Kenny Vaccaro

kenny vaccaro new orleans saints
Derick E. Hingle- USA Today Sports

One of the top defensive rookies in the NFL in 2013, Kenny Vaccaro is in line for a top-notch sophomore year. He's got the tools and mindset to be one of the great defensive backs, but he is still young. With training camp kicking off, keep an eye on him to see if he's ready to take his game to the next level. Hopes are set high for this kid down in the Big Easy, and he likely won't disappoint.