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this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; PERSONNEL ANALYSIS: QB Drew Brees hasn't returned to the practice field yet, but he's proving a perfect fit for the Saints. The latest example of his leadership came on the night before the draft when he heard TB Reggie Bush ...

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Old 05-12-2006, 12:04 PM   #1
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Saints Team Report

PERSONNEL ANALYSIS: QB Drew Brees hasn't returned to the practice field yet, but he's proving a perfect fit for the Saints. The latest example of his leadership came on the night before the draft when he heard TB Reggie Bush wasn't going to be the No. 1 pick. Brees called Bush because he thought the rookie's head would be spinning, and he wanted to encourage him and let him know the Saints would be excited to have him. Then Brees called Saints coach Sean Payton to ease any concerns he might have, letting him know Bush was willing and excited to join the Saints. Brees, who had surgery to repair his torn labrum in January, has been throwing the football for about four weeks now, up to 80 times a day on his good days and up to 25 yards. He said his progress is "kind of scary good" and he insists he'll be back by the start of training camp -- though that remains an optimistic timetable. . . .

The Saints showed a lot of faith in their two young offensive tackles on draft day. They didn't draft a true offensive tackle until the seventh round, leaving Jammal Brown as their starting left tackle and Jon Stinchcomb as their starting right tackle, even though neither has ever started an NFL game at those respective positions. The Saints had a chance at offensive tackles like Winston Justice and Eric Winston, among others, in Round 2, but said they were confident in the players they have. Brown (6-6, 313) started at right tackle as a rookie last year and performed at a high level. With his athleticism, the Saints projected him as a possible left tackle when they drafted him. Stinchcomb (6-5, 315) also has a good combination of strength and athleticism and was actually being groomed as a left tackle. But he only saw limited action as a guard in his first two NFL seasons, then last year he suffered a ruptured patellar tendon in training camp. Now he's back on the practice field, and the Saints believe he and veteran Jamar Nesbit can combine to hold down the fort on the right side.

SCOUTING REPORT: As if Joe Horn didn't already have enough motivation to come back strong in 2006, all this talk of Brees and Bush being the new faces of the Saints must be igniting his fire. Horn had his first mediocre season with the Saints last year, thanks in part to a lingering hamstring injury. The frustration was evident from a player who plays with so much intensity. Now, for the first time, Horn will enter a season feeling like he has something to prove, coming off the hamstring injury at age 34. The 6-1, 213-pounder should have no problem getting back into his comfort zone of 80-plus catches and 1,000 yards. He is especially adept at mid-range routes and slant routes that will be featured heavily in New Orleans' West Coast style offense. And teams can't focus too heavily on him with so many other skill players on the Saints' offense, especially now that Bush is on board.

HONING THEIR GAMES: Any one of New Orleans' middle linebackers could fit in this category. The Saints have been trying in vain to fill this position for years, drafting Courtney Watson in the second round in 2004 and Alfred Fincher in the third round in 2005. Neither has been able to play at full speed and be a consistent tackler while also calling out the defensive adjustments. So this year, the Saints are trying a new approach, moving weakside linebacker Colby Bockwoldt to the middle. Bockwoldt (6-1, 237) has been the Saints' most productive linebacker the last two years after being drafted in the seventh round. He plays with a lot of fire, intensity and instinct. He needs to become a more consistent tackler and take on the more demanding role of defensive "quarterback," but he has a great feel for the game.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES ANALYSIS: GRADE: C. This unit has been more adequate than exceptional. But it is deeper now with the addition of veteran Hollis Thomas, and Johnathan Sullivan finally showed vast improvement last year.

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