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this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; THE INSIDE SCOOP Veteran DTs Thomas and Young earn Saints' trust, but youngsters prepare for their time Sunday, June 03, 2007By Jimmy Smith With training camp commencing in about seven weeks and the bulk of the free-agency signing period past, ...

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Old 06-03-2007, 07:38 AM   #1
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The Inside Scoop: Dt

Veteran DTs Thomas and Young earn Saints' trust, but youngsters prepare for their time Sunday, June 03, 2007By Jimmy Smith
With training camp commencing in about seven weeks and the bulk of the free-agency signing period past, it's unlikely the Saints will be bringing in any younger bodies in the interior of their defensive line.

Barring injury or the unforeseen, that means 33-year-old Hollis Thomas, entering his 12th NFL season, and Brian Young, who'll be 30 on July 8 and entering his eighth year, once again will be the starting defensive tackles.

What's the significance of the Saints' decision not to bring in any younger bodies at the position, either through the draft or free agency?

"They're counting on me to do my job," Thomas said. "And I'm going to try not to let them down."

New Orleans took steps to increase the competition and depth at linebacker and safety by signing free agents Brian Simmons and Kevin Kaesviharn from Cincinnati. However, the Saints' coaching staff apparently discovered during Thomas' monthlong suspension late last year for a violation of the league's steroid policy that backups Antwan Lake and Rodney Leisle were capable of bolstering the inside of the defensive line. Also, versatile defensive end Willie Whitehead can slide over to tackle, and he was running ahead of Thomas with the first unit at Saturday's afternoon practice.

"I think when you look at the draft and start looking at areas of need, you try to do as much as you can," Saints Coach Sean Payton said. "You set some goals at what you want to get accomplished in the offseason and whether it's position-specific on offense or defense. Sometimes you can't create something.

"Certainly we would have liked to have drafted another young inside lineman. But it didn't work out that way. I'm confident these younger guys behind some of the veterans we have will give us the depth we need, and we'll move forward. But that's an area, though, we certainly look at and recognize there are some older players there. It's something where those younger guys are certainly going to have to play and compete."

No problem, says Young, who saw Lake and Leisle gain immeasurable confidence as their practice and playing time increased during Thomas' absence.

"I'm happy with what we've got," Young said. "We've got a good group of guys there. I'm happy with the way our defensive tackle situation is now. I think we played well in the system. We've got guys here now who can play in the system, who know the system. Guys who want to work hard. There's a lot of promise inside."

The Saints took quick steps to retain that potential, opting to re-sign Lake, who joined the team toward the end of training camp last year, to a two-year contract, and keeping Leisle by giving him a contract tender.

"It was very surprising," Lake, entering his fifth season, said of the Saints' contract offer. "I had a couple of teams looking, but when they offered the deal, I was very surprised I had the chance to be back with the guys again. And it felt pretty good.

"It just shows me they were pretty satisfied with what they had in the middle. Maybe they might make some additions during training camp or something, but they seem to be pretty satisfied, pretty comfortable with what they had in the middle. That shows confidence in us."

Leisle, heading into his fourth year, is limited during this minicamp because he underwent left shoulder surgery more than a month ago to repair some damage to the labrum and rotator cuff. The rehab has kept Leisle out of most of the organized team activities.

He nevertheless credits the time he spent on the field during Thomas' absence last year as the turning point in his Saints career.

"It was my chance to shine, to step in and do what I had to do," said Leisle, who added he thought the coaching staff also saw enough to be satisfied with the depth at the position. "It was really important. It just takes confidence to keep people here. Trust is what it's all about.

"I worked hard at this. It's not something I lollygag at. I bust my (butt). I'm not the greatest playmaker in the world, but I'm going to give it my best effort. That makes a lot of plays in itself."

Still, with no new faces inside, the pressure will be on Thomas and Young to maintain, and perhaps surpass, the level of play they exhibited a year ago.

"They're counting on us to get the job done," Thomas said. "It's a big task. But somebody's got to do it."


"We may have lost the game, but you'll be hurting tomorrow." Doug Atkins
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Old 06-03-2007, 07:44 AM   #2
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The Saints brought in defensive lineman Scott Scharf for a three-day workout during this weekend's minicamp. Scharf spent part of last season on the Saints' practice squad.

We are still looking. Good
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Old 06-03-2007, 08:48 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by hagan714 View Post

We are still looking. Good
I agree with that.

I wonder if Payton really does have confidence in Lake & Leisle, or is just making positive comments until somebody better comes along.

Can anybody think of any DT's available, that are in shape? Not Jackson or Jenkins, obviously.
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Old 06-03-2007, 07:26 PM   #4
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Everybody keeps forgetting that Young was one of the most productive DT's in the league last year, don't get me wrong, I know we need to get younger and add depth to the position, but it's not as alarming as people think. Last year most of those huge running plays were to the outside, I think with the addition of Brian Simmons at MLB, Kevin Kaesviharn, and a healthy Roman Harper at the Safety positions, I don't think it's going to be easy running up the middle on us. We really need to watch for those outside, off tackles runs that killed us last year, if we can do that we will be dominant on the defensive side of the ball.

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Old 06-04-2007, 12:58 AM   #5
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i have some concern about the interior line! Even though I was impressed with way Hollis and especially Young played, I thought we wore down late in games. This seemed to be because of the dept that we lacked. Hollis is a good plugger, and Young was a beast, but we have to find quality "young" back ups who can come in and make plays.

Good post Hagan. It is soothing to know that the coaching staff is confident in the work of the DTs, But I thought they would have been a lil more aggresive in bringing in some young athletic DTs to back the boys up! With the two monsters we have at DE, quality play from the DTs would free them up to be spectacular on the outside.

The best conerback tandem in the league reside in the N.O.
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Old 06-04-2007, 06:21 AM   #6
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improved secondary play will have as much to do with the run defense.with better cover,we can cheat on running teams better without getting burnt.
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Old 06-04-2007, 08:16 AM   #7
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I think we're going to be okay this year with Young, Thomas, Leslie, and Lake... I'm more worried about the future more than the present. We'll definately address it next offseason.
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Old 06-05-2007, 10:31 AM   #8
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I remember a couple of years ago when Young was our leading tackler.... i think with like 66 tackles maybe? ill have to check.
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