Saints Shanle looks to survive

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Veteran linebacker Scott Shanle joined New Orleans in 2006 and since then has recorded more tackles than any other Saints defender. During that time the franchise has likewise experienced it's most glorious run ever. Still, despite all that success Shanle has often drawn criticism from the fans for his lack of big plays and overall performance. Even though the Saints totally revamped their linebacking corps in the offseason by adding Curtis Lofton from the Falcons, David Hawthorne via the Seahawks and Chris Chamberlain by way of the Rams, Shanle isn't worried about whispers he's expendable.

"It's nothing new to me," he says, "As long as I continue to produce. If management is still happy, obviously I've done something right."

Interim head coach Joe Vitt, who's also been with the Saints since '06 and has coached linebackers that entire time, still has high praise for Shanle.

"Each year you look and ask if there's going to be a diminish in skill level," Vitt says, "And you haven't seen it yet. You still see the quick twitch, he's got some long speed, he's got good use of his hands. And playing this long, he's using his knowledge how to play the game. Formation recognition, down and distance, personnel in the game. You take a guy that's played this long and studied the game, his athletic skill set...that's why he's still playing."

Shanle was drafted from the Nebraska Cornhuskers by the St Louis Rams in 2003, where he spent one year with the team. After a two-year stop with Dallas, he followed then Cowboys' assistant coach Sean Payton to New Orleans and the rest is history.

"You play a lot of football for someone and they've seen you play in big games for a number of years," adds Shanle, "There's a trust factor that you really can't replace when it comes to Sunday and remaining calm."

Shanle and the Saints play their preseason opener Sunday night at 7 pm, against the Arizona Cardinals in the Hall of Fame Game. The contest will take place in Canton, Ohio and be televised nationally by the NFL Network.

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