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As he prepares to enter his third season with the New Orleans Saints Chris Doleman Jersey , defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins wants to become a leadership figure on defense.

According to Herbie Teope of NFL.com, the 2016 first-round pick feels he’s equipped to take another step forward on a defense that improved significantly last season.

“Now, it’s all about improving, whether it’s just finishing plays,” Rankins said. “I had a lot of pressures, a lot of quarterback hits, but now it’s time to turn those into sacks. A lot of tackles around the line of scrimmage, but now it’s time to turn those into (tackles for loss). It’s time to be a leader for this defense.”

Rankins became a full-time starter for the Saints in his second season after being a rotational player in 2016. The No. 12 overall pick had four sacks as a rookie when he was a rotational piece after beginning the year on injured reserve Tom Rathman Jersey , but just two sacks last season as a full-time player. He finished his 2017 season with 26 tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble and an interception.

“I think what I do speaks for itself,” Rankins said. “I think I’m versatile. I can rush the passer, I can stop the run, I can do whatever the defense needs me to do. I’ll always carry that with me in and out of every season, and my mindset won’t change.”

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (6-10)

OPEN CAMP: July 25, Santa Clara Dee Ford Jersey , California

LAST YEAR: Coach Kyle Shanahan’s first year with San Francisco was tale of two seasons. 49ers lost first nine games – including record five straight by three points or fewer. But San Francisco posted most dramatic in-season turnaround in NFL history by winning final five games after putting midseason acquisition Jimmy Garoppolo in as starting quarterback.

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IMPORTANT ADDITIONS: CB Richard Sherman, RB Jerick McKinnon, C Weston Richburg, LB Jeremiah Attaochu, G Jonathan Cooper, LB Korey Toomer, T Mike McGlinchey, WR Dante Pettis Brett Favre Jersey , LB Fred Warner.

IMPORTANT LOSSES: RB Carlos Hyde, S Eric Reid, CB Dontae Johnson, DE Elvis Dumervil, C Daniel Kilgore, T Trent Brown, G Brandon Fusco,

CAMP NEEDS: Biggest question marks are at cornerback and pass rusher. Sherman was signed after being cut loose by Seattle and is working his way back from Achilles tendon injury. He is no longer elite shutdown cornerback but is being counted on by Niners. Ahkello Witherspoon showed promise as rookie but will need to step up if San Francisco will have top-flight defense. 49ers were unable to make major upgrades to pass rush in free agency or draft and are hoping for better production from last year’s first-round pick Solomon Thomas Shaq Mason Jersey , as well as free-agent acquisition Attaochu.

EXPECTATIONS: Full season of Garoppolo has created high hopes in San Francisco for franchise that has second-fewest wins in NFL in past three seasons with 13. Garoppolo is undefeated in seven starts as pro and earned $137.5 million contract in offseason based on his strong play after trade from New England. Garoppolo won’t be able to get San Francisco back to playoffs for first time since 2013 on his own. He will need to find go-to receiver, hope McKinnon thrives as featured back, and defense led by emerging star tackle DeForest Buckner improves.

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