By John DeShazier
The New Orleans Saints
When he walked into the New Orleans Saints training facility in 2019, the undrafted rookie from Wyoming checked in at 248 pounds.
“Two-fifty on a good day,” Carl Granderson said.
Thirty-two pounds and seven games into his fifth NFL season later, Granderson is tossing around linemen and smothering quarterbacks with equal effectiveness, having solidified a hold as New Orleans’ starter at right defensive end after having shown a leap of improvement in each of his seasons.
From a sack, two tackles for loss, two quarterback hits and 11 tackles in eight games as a rookie, to his current breakout season: A team-leading 4.5 sacks, eight tackles for loss, a fumble recovery, a forced fumble, nine quarterback hits and 29 tackles in seven starts entering Sunday’s game against the Colts (3-4) at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Last season, Granderson’s best as a pro, he had 5.5 sacks, nine tackles for loss and nine quarterback hits – all career highs – in 16 games, with four starts.
Granderson said much is attributable to the weight and muscle he packed on.
“You’ve got to be big and physical to play this game,” he said. “Each year, I’ve gained probably about 10 pounds and it shows up on the field. I remember my first couple of years, I was getting tossed around a little bit but now, I’m strong on blocks.”