The 2017 season begins for the New Orleans Saints with a venture north, just 56 days from now. The Saints take on the Minnesota Vikings in a prime time matchup on NFL’s Monday night football. Canal Street Chronicles continues our march to the season opener with a look back at the Saints players that have worn the No. 56.
Dennis “Dirt” Winston (LB, 1982-1985)
Winston was acquired through a trade with the Pittsburgh Steelers before the start of the 1982 season. A two-time Super Bowl champion with Pittsburgh, but not able to start because of their deep talent at linebacker, Winston started all 41 games in his first 3 seasons with New Orleans. An extremely aggressive inside ‘backer, Winston intercepted 7 passes with the Saints, returning two for touchdowns in 1984, and added 2 sacks and multiple fumble recoveries. Broiled in a contract dispute with team management early in 1985, Winston was traded back to the Steelers just 3 games into the season, where he would play the final two years of his career.
Pat Swilling (LB, 1986-1992)
Swilling was a 3rd round draft choice by the Saints in 1986 out of Georgia Tech. He teamed with Vaughan Johnson and Sam Mills, joining with Rickey Jackson to form the vaunted “Dome Patrol”. The foursome went on to torture NFL teams for the next seven years. Although he saw action in every contest during his rookie year, Swilling entrenched himself as a starter in the strike-shortened 1987 campaign.
He responded with 10.5 sacks to lead the team and finishing tied for the team lead in fumbles forced and recovered, with 3 each. He would only miss three starts, out of a possible 92 games,…
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