Haralson excels doing non-glamourous run defense for Saints

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — Not everybody can hit the home runs.

Or anchor the relay team, finish fast breaks or sack quarterbacks.

Somebody has to reach base on a walk; pass the relay baton in the second exchange; start the fast break with an outlet pass or treat NFL running backs like mobile piñatas.

Which brings us to Saints outside linebacker Parys Haralson, who is known for his efforts against the run. Somebody has to do it.

"It's not one of those things where you're going to go out and get glory for it," Haralson said Friday morning at Saints training camp from The Greenbrier Resort. He arrived in New Orleans last preseason via a trade with San Francisco.

"The guys that get sacks, they get the glory they deserve."

How about guys like Haralson?

"You go out and play hard-nosed football," he said. "And that's all I know how to do."

Haralson’s effort last season against the run helped the Saints improve on 2012’s forgettable follies — from a league-worst 147.6 yards a game to 19th in the league (111.6).

Haralson had 30 tackles and finished with 3 1/2 sacks after veteran Victor Butler’s season-ending injury last year created a need for Haralson.

Coach Sean Payton said the goal is to have a complete player, someone who excels against the run and in passing situations. But players are usually better at one than the other.

"There's certain players that will come on the field in obvious passing situations," Payton said, alluding to Haralson. "Parys is stout against the run and yet one of the things that attracted us to him a year ago was that he gave you some ability to get an edge in the pass rush."

Haralson pass rushed 111 times last season, less than one-fourth of the pass rushes of fellow outside linebacker Junior Galette, according to ProFootballFocus. Also, Haralson dropped into pass coverage 60 times while playing the run 196 times.

Meanwhile, Galette enjoyed a breakout season as a first-time starter, finishing with 12 sacks. Defensive end Cameron Jordan reached his first Pro Bowl with 12 1/2 sacks.

Butler was pleased from the sideline.

"I’m a teammate first, (and) an individual second," Butler said. "It was just great to see my team shine like that."

Now that Butler is back, he's competing against Butler, fifth-round draft pick Ronald Powell, 2013 sixth-round draft pick Rufus Johnson and others for playing time.

The defense is hoping to further improve against the run and has a goal to be known as the toughest in the NFL.

"I'm happy for Cam and Junior," Haralson said. "I expect a big year for (defensive end) Akiem (Hicks).

And how about Haralson’s goals for himself?

"I go out and do what I have to do," he said. "If double-digit sacks come, then they come. If not, I still come out and play. My whole thing is I go out and do my job. As long as I do it, and my teammates can depend on me."