Cameron Jordan, Junior Galette lead Saints’ sack-happy charge

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON -- New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan sacks San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick just short of a safety during a Nov. 17 game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Jordan is part of a Saints defense that has 43 sacks this season. Show caption
Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON -- New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan sacks San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick just short of a safety during a Nov. 17 game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Jordan is part of a Saints defense that has 43 sacks this season.

Led by the tandem of Cameron Jordan and Junior Galette, the Saints are dropping quarterbacks at a much faster pace this season

After finishing the 2012 season with just 30 sacks, the New Orleans Saints have turned up the heat and are tied for second in the NFL through 13 games with 43 sacks — one fewer than the Buffalo Bills.

While it’s been a well-rounded effort for the NFL’s sixth-ranked defense, defensive end Cameron Jordan and outside linebacker Junior Galette have combined for nearly half of the club’s total with 20 1/2.

That makes them the No. 2 sack tandem in the league behind Kansas City Chiefs linebackers Justin Houston and Tamba Hali, who have 11 sacks each for a total of 22.

There’s a healthy competition going on between Galette, a four-year veteran, and Jordan, who forged a friendship when the Saints selected him in the first round of the 2011 draft, that has turned into a formidable pass-rushing duo.

“I used to speak with Cam his rookie year … I knew he was a beast,” Galette said.

In their previous two seasons together, they combined for 18 1/2 sacks — which means they have two more than that already this season, with three more games to increase their total.

“Obviously, you have to wait for certain things to happen for us to be playing at the same time,” Galette said. “We’ve been speaking about it for a while. But it’s actually happening, so it’s kind of a surreal feeling.

“At the same time, it’s like we knew it was going to happen. We called it. … We really did. We knew he has the power and skill set to beat any tackle in this league and I come off the edge with speed and push the pocket.”

Practice report

Saints nose tackle Brodrick Bunkley, who was sidelined for Wednesday’s practice with a back injury, was able to work on a limited basis Thursday.

Also limited was DE Glenn Foster, who returned to work Wednesday after missing two games with a left knee injury.

Not working were S Rafael Bush (ankle), LB Keyunta Dawson (calf) and TE Josh Hill (hamstring).

For the Rams, WR Tavon Austin (ankle), CB Janoris Jenkins (back), RB Daryl Richardson (thigh) and G Harvey Dahl (knee) did not practice.

Brees, Graham in top 10

Quarterback Drew Brees and tight end Jimmy Graham are among the top 10 vote-getters with two weeks to go in fan balloting for the Pro Bowl.

Brees ranks second overall with 934,772 votes, while Graham ranks seventh with 625,674 votes.

Fan voting continues online atNFL.com/probowl/ballot until 5 p.m. Dec. 26. Fans’ vote counts one-third toward the selection process for the 88 players to be chosen for the Jan. 26 game.

Players and coaches vote Dec. 23-26 and the Pro Bowlers will be announced Dec. 27. They will be “drafted” into two teams Jan. 22.

Give me 30

When the Saints scored 31 points in their win against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday night, it was the 50th victory — counting the postseason — when they put at least 30 points on the scoreboard under Sean Payton.

They’re now 46-4 in the regular season and 4-2 in the postseason when they hit that number. With Payton sidelined by a suspension last season, they were 6-2 when scoring 30 points or more.

Graham visits East Jefferson

With nearby East Jefferson High School playing for its first state football championship in the LHSAA State Farm Prep Classic on Saturday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, Graham dropped by to visit the Warriors before Tuesday’s practice.

“What you guys have accomplished, so far, is a big deal,” Graham said during his surprise visit. “It’s never been done at this school. Know that you are already among special company. That’s how you should attack this thing, knowing that you are special and know that you can win it.”

East Jefferson will play Edna Karr in the Class 4A title game at 4 p.m. Saturday.

Pro Bowl voting deadline looms

Saints season-ticket holders have until 6 p.m. Friday to purchase their tickets for any playoff games the team may play in the Superdome.

Ticket holders can buy the seats they have during the regular season either in person at the team’s training facility, 5800 Airline Drive in Metairie, or online at neworleanssaints.com.

The two-game package includes tickets for a potential wild-card game and divisional playoff or a divisional playoff and NFC Championship game.

For information, call (504) 731-1700.