METAIRIE, La. — One look at Kenyon Coleman and you know instantly that he’s a football player.
You know right away that he’s not a guy that you want to mess with on the field.
He stands 6-foot-5, weighs 293 pounds and has a closely shaven head, better for ramming running backs and lineman into the ground.
And Saints defensive line coach Bill Johnson, for one, is happy to have him around.
“Great intensity,” Johnson said. “He’s a very violent player. Just the steadiness of going to work and doing his job. Not much more. He’s not preaching and rah rah.”
In Coleman, the Saints picked up in free agency a player whose background is helping stop the run. Coleman has 400 tackles in 11 seasons having played in 141 games.
Better yet, he has been with new Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan for the past four seasons. In other words, he’s quickly becoming as much a teacher of New Orleans’ new 3-4 scheme as a player.
“When you’ve got 12 years in the league and you’re still around, you better be doing something other than just playing,” Johnson said. “You better be helping somewhere else and I think he’s doing a good job of that.”
Said Coleman, “The thing is with experience, you can help a guy out and I know that the same thing happened to me when I was a younger guy. I had great guys like Regan Upshaw, Greg Ellis, and some other great veterans that taught me a lot.”
Coleman left practice early Tuesday with what was described only as a chest injury. He tore his triceps in the middle of 2012 when he was with Dallas and went on injured reserve. When he came off that list, he went onto another one – the unrestricted free agent list.
With Ryan no longer in Dallas and in New Orleans, it seemed like a simple solution as to where he’d end up.
“The thing about this game is you are going to be who you are and I feel like the reason why Rob Ryan and I have such a great relationship is because he knows what is going to get out of me, he knows the sense of consistency,” Coleman said. “For me I don’t try and strive and reach, I just (try to) be the person I know that I am. Obviously Rob has got accustomed to that and obviously that is why I am here.”
Coach Sean Payton seems to see what Ryan sees in Coleman.
“He’s a player that understands exactly what he does well,” Payton said. “That is the early downs. He plays the run well. He can come off the block and still rush the passer but his strength would be defending the run on first- and second-down and those run situations and goal-line situations.”