Courtesy---James Varney/Times Picayune

With 18 solo stops and 41 tackles overall, New Orleans Saints defensive tackle Remi Ayodele leads the defensive line. His play, and that of Sedrick Ellis beside him in the trench, is a big reason the Saints defense has performed so well in 2010.

With players like safety Darren Sharper and cornerbacks Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter back in action, the unit stands to go into the second half of the season in fine shape, which bodes well for the Saints

postseason push.

"It's always great to get all the guys back," Ayodele said Tuesday. "Even though we have that, 'next man up,' thing and everybody's been doing their part, it does feel good to have the defense back."

The second year in defensive coordinator Gregg Williams' scheme is also paying benefits, he said.

"I think we know each other more and we know exactly what Gregg wants from us so we hold each other accountable," he said. "Last year it was kind of like we were feeling each other out. There's times where I'll be in there with (linebacker Jonathan) Vilma and he'll let me know - I'll look back at him and he's like, 'Remi, you know?' and I know exactly what he's talking about he don't even have to say much. The bond out there just makes us better.

"I'm taking my coaching a lot better, I'm comfortable out there and I'm not thinking," he added. "Last year I did a little thinking, this year though I know what the coaches want. I know what we have to do to be a better team and so that makes me play better. I think I'm a totally different player from last year."