No. 3: LB Curtis Lofton (N/A, 1st year)
Credit: (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
We may be overrating Curtis Lofton here, especially considering how poorly the defense performed in 2012, but the indispensible list is about more than just on-field production. And Lofton was certainly productive, finishing with a team-high 157 tackles, one sack, 10 passes defensed, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
Lofton is the consummate team player and when Jonathan Vilma was forced to start the season on the physically unable to perform list, the first-year Saint took over leadership duties. He led the team from the middle linebacker position much like Vilma did the past few years.
Yet, it’s what he does off the field that helps his cause for this list. Lofton is the perfect player for younger guys to emulate. Instead of living elsewhere during the offseason, Lofton chooses to live near the training facility. That’s two-fold – it’s easy to get to practice early and it’s easy to get there to lift and workout.
During the offseason, when most players could get away with eating late and unhealthy, Lofton is not, choosing to remain healthy.
Still, it’s mostly what you do on the field that makes you important and Lofton was big on defense in spite of the team’s overall lack of proficiency on that side of the ball. Lofton was around the ball when he was on the field.