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Saints Team Report

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; The Saints have not found a free-agent middle linebacker to upgrade a position that has underachieved since the days of Sam Mills. But after adding free-agent outside linebackers Scott Fujita and Anthony Simmons, they decided to try weakside linebacker Colby ...

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Old 04-22-2006, 08:53 AM   #1
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Saints Team Report

The Saints have not found a free-agent middle linebacker to upgrade a position that has underachieved since the days of Sam Mills. But after adding free-agent outside linebackers Scott Fujita and Anthony Simmons, they decided to try weakside linebacker Colby Bockwoldt in the middle during their first minicamp. Bockwoldt was an unheralded seventh-round draft pick in 2004, but he quickly emerged as the most consistent starter and started all 16 games last year. The 6-1, 237-pounder is one of the team's surest tacklers, though he sometimes overruns the play. His kind of fiery enthusiasm, however, is what has been lacking at the middle linebacker spot. He's certainly intelligent enough to pick up the play-calling skills required of the position and could be a good fit there. He is competing with fellow third-year player Courtney Watson and second-year middle linebacker Alfred Fincher for playing time there. The Saints could still find a middle linebacker in the draft, though. Top prospect A.J. Hawk could potentially play inside if the Saints grab him in the first round. If they choose to address the position in the second round, they still should have their pick of the best true middle linebackers in the draft. . . .

The Saints re-signed 34-year-old return specialist Michael Lewis with hope he will be able to return to form after tearing his ACL in the second game of last season. The Saints missed him badly when he was gone; they got few significant returns in either the punting or kicking games, with no touchdowns. Their field position suffered as a result. Lewis is not yet back to full speed, but he should be by the time the season rolls around. The only question is if someone who relies on his speed and elusiveness as much as Lewis can regain those qualities at his age. . . .

The Saints were unable to sign restricted free-agent safety Keith Davis when the Dallas Cowboys matched their offer to him. But they are still plenty deep at the position with Dwight Smith, Josh Bullocks, Jay Bellamy, Omar Stoutmire and Bryan Scott all experienced starters and Steve Gleason an experienced backup. Davis' greatest contribution probably would have been on special teams, where he was one of the best in the league last year. The Saints want to add more playmakers to their coverage units after an uncharacteristically lackluster effort last year.

SCOUTING REPORT: Fourth-year defensive end Charles Grant should be among the biggest beneficiaries of the Saints' new attacking, all-out defensive style. The 6-3, 290-pounder had a disappointing season last year with just 2.5 sacks and zero forced fumbles. He forced the opposing offensive tackle into several holding penalties, especially early in the year. But as the season went on, he made less of an impact, despite having emerged as one of the team's most talented and game-changing players prior to last season. The entire defense was guilty of the inability to make big plays last year, and the coaching staff wants that to change this year by encouraging the front line to play full-speed ahead. Grant has extra incentive heading into a contract year. He is very athletic and quick despite his burly frame. With Grant and emerging star Will Smith at each end of the defensive line, teams have a difficult time loading up on either side to protect.

STOCK RISING: The new coaching staff has shown faith so far in young receivers Devery Henderson and Chase Lyman. They allowed veteran free-agent receiver Az-Zahir Hakim to look elsewhere and have not actively pursued any other veterans. Henderson in particular should be ready to increase his value to the team in his third season. The second-round draft pick out of LSU was active for only one game as a rookie but played in 14 games last year with three starts. He caught a modest 22 passes for 343 yards with three touchdowns, but he proved to be a big-play threat at times, and he narrowly missed out on several deep gains because he and quarterback Aaron Brooks never seemed to get their timing down. Henderson remains a situational third receiver behind Joe Horn and Donte Stallworth and mostly will be used on deep routes because of his great speed. But the 5-11, 200-pounder needs to prove he can be consistent and versatile if he wants to become a full-time starter when either one of those two moves on one day. Lyman was drafted in the fourth round last year, despite an injury-plagued college career, to be a more physical receiving target. However, he tore his ACL during the first rookie camp and missed the entire season. He's healthy now, and the team still hopes he can be a part of the mix.

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Old 04-22-2006, 10:07 AM   #2
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RE: Saints Team Report

THat Lyman kid is a beast..(when healthy)...and Henderson should take over the 2 spot this year...
I can't wait.
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Old 04-23-2006, 02:30 PM   #3
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RE: Saints Team Report

Henderson will be in the three spot....If Horn goes down I hope DS can step up his play since it looks like we are going to lose Hakim
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Old 04-23-2006, 03:31 PM   #4
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RE: Saints Team Report

Didn't thet bring in Horn (white) to get rid of Hakim?
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Old 04-23-2006, 04:39 PM   #5
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RE: Saints Team Report

yeah... looks like number two pick in the draft will be... da BRICK... and I still like #34 Mangold.
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Old 04-23-2006, 05:06 PM   #6
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Hmm, lots of things I swear I heard before:

The Saints could still find a middle linebacker in the draft, though. Top prospect A.J. Hawk could potentially play inside if the Saints grab him in the first round.
Yup.

Fourth-year defensive end Charles Grant should be among the biggest beneficiaries of the Saints' new attacking, all-out defensive style. The 6-3, 290-pounder had a disappointing season last year with just 2.5 sacks and zero forced fumbles. He forced the opposing offensive tackle into several holding penalties, especially early in the year. But as the season went on, he made less of an impact, despite having emerged as one of the team's most talented and game-changing players prior to last season. The entire defense was guilty of the inability to make big plays last year,
Yup.
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Old 04-23-2006, 05:20 PM   #7
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Once again we agree on the Grant topic, whodi. I will go absolutely insane if we end up keeping Grant and still drafting Mario Williams. That would be yet another waste of a first round pick when we already have a more than capable starter. If they trade Grant (which I don't want to see happen) for fair compensation, then I could totally understand drafting Williams. I just hope the franchise doesn't shoot themselves in the foot as in years past. I can't help but begin to cringe as we get closer to draft day for fear that the front office is going to totally botch it.

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