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TallySaint 07-03-2006 03:32 PM

Saints Team Report
Apologies if this has already been posted....

Saints Team Report

Posted: July 2, 2006

Mike Triplett
New Orleans Times-Picayune

PERSONNEL ANALYSIS: The Saints have taken two different routes with some of their underachieving and underused players this offseason. They shipped out some of them, like Johnathan Sullivan and Courtney Watson. Others have been elevated to prominent roles, giving them an opportunity to sink or swim. Offensive tackle Jon Stinchcomb is competing for the starting right tackle job despite barely playing in his first two years, then missing all of last season with a major knee injury. Second-year middle linebacker Alfred Fincher is working with the first-string defense despite never recording a tackle last year. And cornerback Joey Thomas, who was released by Green Bay during last season after underachieving with the Packers, is working with the second-string defense. All three could make significant contributions this year -- or at the very least, the Saints will get a better idea of what kind of potential they have. . . .

After trading away Sullivan, the Saints put even more emphasis on veteran defensive tackle Hollis Thomas' role with the team. Early on, he has already been a valued presence in the locker room with his lighthearted personality and his wealth of experience with the successful Eagles. But coaches have demanded that he get in better shape for training camp and the regular season. Thomas, who is listed at 6 foot, 306 pounds, was overweight during the team's OTAs and full-squad minicamp.

SCOUTING REPORT: One of the few positions the Saints didn't need to mess with this offseason was fullback, where third-year veteran Mike Karney is a solid and still-improving young starter who quietly gets his job done. The 5-11, 258-pounder is a physical player with a kind of tough, old-school charisma who is well-respected by teammates. He has good athleticism for his size, though he has not been featured much in the offense, with just six carries and 10 receptions last year for a combined 73 yards. Karney will be used differently in coach Sean Payton's new offense. With Payton's West Coast background, he will probably ask Karney to catch a few more passes. But with some two-tight end sets and some two-back sets which will feature both Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush on the field together, Karney might see a decrease in playing time.

COACH UNDER PRESSURE: Most of Payton's staff fits into this category, with several assistants being elevated into new roles, some of them coaching in the NFL for the first time. But the greatest onus will be on defensive coordinator Gary Gibbs. With Payton concentrating heavily on the offense, Gibbs will be responsible for reshaping a unit that has mostly ranked in the bottom half of the league for the last several years. Gibbs was a head coach at Oklahoma more than a decade ago, and he has been a defensive coordinator at LSU and Georgia, but he has less experience in the NFL, serving as linebackers coach in Dallas for the last four years. Gibbs favors an aggressive, attacking defensive style and plans to take advantage of the speed and talent the Saints boast in their front four. The biggest challenge will be figuring out how to get some production from a linebacking corps that has woefully underachieved in years past.

INSIDE DISH:WR Donte' Stallworth and DE Charles Grant are both in contract years, which could be good and bad for the Saints. Both former first-round picks are immensely talented players who have shown both greatness and inconsistency during their careers so far. The looming free agency should be an incentive for big seasons, but that might mean a departure for one or both.

TIGHT ENDS ANALYSIS: B. The Saints stocked up with veterans at this position in the offseason, but they will be especially deep if Ernie Conwell recovers fully from a knee injury. Young starter Zach Hilton is emerging as a top receiving target.


jrmllb 07-03-2006 03:47 PM

RE: Saints Team Report
nIce take I like it

saintsrule 07-04-2006 01:09 AM

RE: Saints Team Report
I would like to know how much the coaching will change the team.

mikesaintfan 07-04-2006 09:45 AM

RE: Saints Team Report

Gibbs favors an aggressive, attacking defensive style and plans to take advantage of the speed and talent the Saints boast in their front four.
sound great

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