Cowboys Spotlight on Saints strong safety Kenny Vaccaro

Posted Tuesday, Nov. 05, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Height: 6-0 Weight: 214

Season: Rookie College: Texas

Strengths: He continues the UT safety pipeline into the NFL, following Earl Thomas, Michael Griffin and Michael Huff. The Saints made him the 15th overall pick, intrigued by his versatility and his hard-hitting style. Vaccaro’s athletic ability allowed him to be used as a nickel corner at times in college. He left Texas with great man coverage skills, confidence and aggressiveness. Vaccaro is a solid tackler.

Weaknesses: He likely would have gone higher had he run faster. Vaccaro was timed in 4.59 in the 40-yard dash at the combine in February. He lacks a burst. Vaccaro will bite on play action. His instincts and knowledge of the game improve with each game. He continues to get more comfortable in Rob Ryan’s defense. Vaccaro has the potential to become one of the standout safeties in the league.

Last week: He had five tackles and broke up one pass in the Saints’ 26-20 loss to the Jets.

Who he has to stop? The Cowboys rank ninth in passing, though they have averaged only 250.5 passing yards per game the past four games. Tony Romo has completed 66.2 percent of his passes for 2,553 yards with 20 touchdowns and six interceptions this season. His 100.0 passer rating ranks fifth in the NFL. With the Saints ranked 25th against the run and fifth against the pass, the Cowboys could attempt to establish the run better than they did last week when they had a franchise-low nine carries.

Notable: Vaccaro grew up a Cowboys fan. … He has started six consecutive games, filling in for the injured Roman Harper against the Jets last week. … The Saints are allowing 211.9 passing yards per game after ranking 31st last season. They have allowed only eight touchdown passes after giving up 31 in 2012. They rank fifth in points allowed at 18.3. … Vaccaro is a candidate for defensive rookie of the year. … He has 53 tackles, including 38 solo, with a sack, an interception and five passes defensed. … He also plays special teams. — Charean Williams

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