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There’s high hopes for Marcus Davenport in 2020, but the New Orleans Saints defensive end might have loftier expectations for himself than what anyone could project onto him. He wants to outplay his All-Pro teammate Cameron Jordan this year, and while his coaches agree that’s a lot to hope for, they’re encouraged by the work Davenport has put in to chase that goal.

“You’re seeing a bigger, stronger, (but) still athletic player out there,” said Saints defensive line coach Ryan Nielsen after Wednesday’s practice. Nielsen clarified that Davenport has gotten his weight up to around 280 pounds, a 15-pound gain from his rookie year, and that Davenport’s 6-foot-6 frame carries it well.

Nielsen continued: “So he’s able to do some things — striking blocks and holding the point and the edge in the run game, create some knock-back and some more power in the pass rush. With that weight and keeping that athleticism, that’s where he’s really turned the corner of like, ‘I really can do the things that they’re asking me to do.’”

Davenport took a big step forward in 2019, ranking second-best on the team in both sacks (6) and quarterback hits (16) while leading the Saints defense in forced fumbles (3). If he can rebound from a season-ending Lisfranc injury and progress even further, as he and his coaches expect him to, there’s no telling how great he can be.

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Sean Payton was also pleased by how Davenport started the summer, especially considering how much time he had to spend in the trainers’ room recovering from surgery last year.

“I like how he’s put together right now, his weight’s up, and I think his strength is up,” Payton said in his media conference call after practice. “So, so far, so good. In this camp, I think he certainly understands the defense now. And putting practices together like he’s doing and working on his technique, it’s good to have him back out there.”

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