Confident Rookie Wants to Play Fast, Learn the Saints’ Playbook

The New Orleans Saints have 18 players listed as defensive backs on the roster this week. But Stanley Jean-Baptiste, who is one of them, isn’t worried.

“I don’t feel much pressure,” said Mr. Jean-Baptiste, a cornerback.

Jean-Baptiste, 24, who is almost 7 feet tall and weighs 218 pounds, has a lot of confidence for a rookie. But as a second-round draft pick and after a strong season as a senior at the University of Nebraska, it may be justified.

He is entering the program with high expectations and says he hopes to “lead the league in interceptions” but adds “that should be every cornerback’s goal.”

The former Nebraska defensive standout said the first thing he plans is to learn the Saints’ playbook. “I want to make a good impression with the coaches and get them to trust me,” he said.

Jean-Baptiste joined other players for the Saints’ voluntary organized team activities — an annual pre-season practice that falls between the end of the previous season and the start of training camp. Demonstrating talent and ability is crucial for Jean-Baptiste as he competes for playing time in upcoming season. Although Jean-Baptiste has signed a contract with the Saints, he is not guaranteed field time.

“Everyone in the NFL is great,” he said. “But in college, there are only some great players.”

Jean-Baptiste’s determination and resilience were on full display during a practice at the Saint’s training facilities in Metairie, LA. He attempted an interception and missed. But he did not give up. He continued to pursue the ball, ultimately causing the defender to fumble. His relentlessness received high praise from players and coaches.

His influence was on display in other ways. He constantly interacted with Keenan Lewis, a six-year vet. Lewis and Jean-Baptiste share the same position and Lewis mentored the younger player, demonstrating how to use hand-and-foot work to gain an advantage.

Jean-Baptiste comes to the Saints after an impressive senior year at Nebraska, where after playing two seasons he racked up 41 tackles, 12 pass breakups and 4 interceptions. His college performances earned him the title of second-team All-Big Ten, an award given to exceptional division players. He finished the year with 74 tackles, 7 intercepts, 22 pass deflections and one sack.

Jean-Baptiste said that while with the Saints, he will focus on playing fast—he says there can be “no high-stepping.”

Some like to compare Jean-Baptiste to Richard Sherman, the Super Bowl winning cornerback for the Seattle Seahawks. But other than size and body structure, they are completely different players, says Jean-Baptiste.

“He is a vet to the game, and has a lot more experience,” said Jean-Baptiste. “I am just coming in, and I have a lot of learning to do.”

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