Linebacker roles for the New Orleans Saints aren’t even close to being set for the regular season, but A.J. Klein has his eyes on one of the most important defensive duties as he pursues a starting role.
Once the Saints are playing on Sundays, Klein expects to be wearing the radio in his helmet and relaying the play calls to the defense, no matter which spot he plays.
Right now, Klein is working as the No. 1 strong-side linebacker in the Saints’ base 4-3 defense, but when the team switches to nickel defense, he moved to the middle. If that carries into the season, Klein would likely be on the field for every snap, and even if he’s not in the middle each play, he’d likely be responsible for lining up the defense.
The Saints signed Klein in March to a three-year, $15 million deal because they think he proved he could be a versatile and productive player during his time with the Carolina Panthers. As important as football talent is, Klein said he thinks communication is the most important aspect of his job, and he noted poor communication as a reason the defense allowed some deep passes and long gains on screens Sunday.
Even if Klein isn’t the loudest guy on the field, he knows the importance of leadership at his position, too.
“I think that’s just what the position requires,” Klein said Sunday. “I don’t necessarily try to hoot and holler, but I want to make sure everybody’s on the same page. I think that falls on the Mike backer, that falls on the linebacker corps in general.”
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