It's not often that a team will jettison a Pro Bowl left tackle, but the New Orleans Saints did just that, sending two-time Pro Bowler Jammal Brown to the Washington Redskins this past offseason.
The Saints could afford to do that due to the development of Jermon Bushrod. The former Towson product became a full-time starter at left tackle last season and performed well enough to convince the team to dump Brown.
"His progression has been fast," New Orleans coach Sean Payton said during a conference call with Baltimore media Wednesday afternoon. "Last year at training camp, Jamaal Brown was injured, and he was put in the starting luneup. And so each week, you saw growth spurts in regards to how he was playing. He's a player that's become more and more comfortable and is still very young at the position. But he's been very consistent, and that's a very good characteristic to have as an offensive lineman. He sees some of the better pass rushers every week, and he'll see one certainly this week with [Ravens' outside linebacker Terrell] Suggs. Whether it's [Atlanta Falcons defensive end John] Abraham – and you go on and on and on – and in the Super Bowl, it was [Indianapolis Colts defensive end Dwight] Freeney, that position draws some of the best players on the field, and we try to help him at times. We try to do some things protection-wise, and yet, a large majority of the game, he's going to be one-on-one battling that player. So I think he's handled it well, and especially as young as he is at the profession."Bushrod gets another test in Suggs, who is tied for fifth in the NFL with 10 sacks this season. That match-up could determine whether Saints quarterback Drew Brees plays well Sunday.
"'Bush' has done great," Brees said. "He was a first-year starter last year and he really grew into that position and kind of [dealt with] the learning curve of going from small school/college to going to big-time NFL football and playing at a high level against really good pass rushers, just like he's going to go up against this week. He's really done a good job and continues to get better each week."