Bradley Handwerger / WWLTV.com Sports Reporter
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METAIRIE, La. ― Open the Saints 2011 media guide to page 222 and you’ll find an eight sentence entry beneath the name Isa Abdul-Quddus.
Entering Week 17, the undrafted rookie free agent from Fordham has earned a much longer entry.
Abdul-Quddus (6-foot-1, 220-pound) has played in all 15 games this season, registering five defensive stops, two passes defended and 11 special teams tackles.
“Isa has done very well,” Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams said. “The reason you’re seeing him play more is he has earned the right to play more.”
That the rookie is in this position is shocking even to him.
Despite starting two seasons at Fordham and despite leading the team in tackles his senior season the odds of him making the team were long.
The Saints had not only starters Malcolm Jenkins and Roman Harper signed, veteran safeties Pierson Prioleau and Chris Reis were back at training camp.
And what the latter two had going for them was their time spent with the Saints prior to this season. At least they knew the scheme.
For Abdul-Quddus, there was no rookie or full minicamp and there was no offseason program.
“It’s a great, amazing experience,” Abdul-Quddus said. “I honestly didn’t think I’d be this far when I first started. I never thought I’d be playing defense as much as I am. I thought I’d be a straight special teams guy but I’ve come a far way with the help of the veterans.”
His “welcome to the NFL” moment came in Week 12, when he waylaid Giants receiver Hakeem Nicks over the middle, jarring the ball loose but also culling a personal foul penalty for the hit.
Jenkins, the other defensive backs and Williams all high-fived the youngster.
“I would say that that was a play that didn’t hurt him from going back on the field,” Williams said.
That’s not the only part of Abdul-Quddus’ game or the way he carries himself that has impressed teammates.
“Isa is a guy that is doing everything that needs to be done to be a successful safety in this league, a successful player in this league for a long time,” cornerback Jabari Greer said. “I’m proud of him. He came in the hard way. Nobody gave him anything. He has worked. He’s always prepared.”
The work ethic and preparation are what Williams sees, too.
“The speed of the decisions that he has been able to make has been outstanding,” Williams said. “He has been fearless. He’s not afraid of any challenge. He has a good mental makeup about him but he has got the physical tools to be a really good player.
“We’re trying to find ways to get him in the game more.”