METAIRIE, La. ― Jonathan Casillas finished Thursday night’s game against New England was one of the best defensive players on the field, finishing with a team-leading 10 tackles as well as a special teams stop.
Two days later, he was the belle of the ball, swarmed by media following New Orleans’ morning practice session.
And that, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams said, is the next thing the coaching staff will try to drive home to the second-year linebacker out of Wisconsin.
“Here’s the next thing and you’ll see us be on him pretty hard this week in practice because you and everyone else is going to be kissing his (butt) all week long about how good he was,” Williams said. “He hasn’t done anything in a regular season game right now and now he has to do it when someone else sees that he has flashed.”
But if there’s a good sign already showing, it’s that Casillas realizes what he has accomplished as an undrafted rookie free agent means nothing.
“I can’t say I’m the greatest or the best because I made 10 tackles in a preseason game,” Casillas said. “That means nothing.”
Casillas gave himself a “C at best” for his performance against the Patriots.
Yet, that appears good enough to land him more snaps with the first-team defense at weakside linebacker. Saturday, he picked up snaps there, forcing Williams to move normal weakside linebacker Scott Shanle to the strong side.
Williams and the Saints coaches will get a chance this week and Saturday to see if Casillas handles the sudden celebrity well. The Saints practice with the Texans on Wednesday and Thursday and play Houston on Saturday.
“Any time a player flashes, he becomes a marked man the next time that a grown man gets ready to play against him,” Williams said. “So all of a sudden, he becomes a marked man and we’ll see how he plays this week when he’s marked because he stood out on film.”