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Former Oklahoma linebacker Curtis Lofton is a vital part of New Orleans Saints' defense

Elite NFL defenders earn big paychecks by making plays. Few players have made more plays the past four seasons than New Orleans Saints linebacker Curtis Lofton, the former Oklahoma standout from Kingfisher. Since the 2009 season, Lofton ranks third in the NFL in tackles.
By Mike Baldwin Published: September 14, 2013

New Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, the outspoken coach who was fired last season by the Dallas Cowboys, has brought a new attitude.

“He's a great defensive coordinator,” Lofton said. “We're changing the culture around here defensive-wise. We're off to a good start. We're going to try to build off that and get better each and every single day.”

In the season opener, a 23-17 win over Atlanta, the Saints limited the high-powered Falcons to 3-of-11 on third downs and forced two turnovers, including a game-clinching interception. It was a promising start for a defense that lost four starters to injuries in preseason.

Lofton, who signed a five-year deal worth up to $27.5 million, is the heart of New Orleans defense.

“What you get with Curtis is a steady linebacker,” Saints linebacker coach/assistant head coach Joe Vitt told the Baton Rouge Advocate. “He can protect in the paint (the space between the hash marks) and he really tackles well in the paint.

“But what you don't know about a player until he gets here is what kind of person he is. Curtis has earned the respect of every player in our locker room.”