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this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Posted: August 7, 2007 Mike Triplett For Sporting News The breakout player so far in Saints camp is probably WR Lance Moore, who spent most of the last two seasons on New Orleans' practice squad. The 5-9, 177-pounder looks like ...

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Old 08-08-2007, 12:25 AM   #1
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Cool Saints Team Report

Posted: August 7, 2007

Mike Triplett
For Sporting News



The breakout player so far in Saints camp is probably WR Lance Moore, who spent most of the last two seasons on New Orleans' practice squad. The 5-9, 177-pounder looks like the prime candidate to replace veteran Michael Lewis as a kickoff returner and punt returner. He has also developed into a decent receiving option. Coach Sean Payton has raved about Moore's work ethic, saying he has become more physical and proved to be a quick study at all three receiver positions. That kind of versatility is a sure way to earn a roster spot. Watch for his development throughout the preseason. ...

The Saints suffered only one real significant injury during the first week of camp when backup DE Rob Ninkovich strained the medial collateral ligament in his left knee, which should keep him sidelined for about four weeks. That's a big blow for Ninkovich, who really could have used the preseason experience. He missed almost all of his rookie season with a torn ACL in his other knee. Obviously, the Saints are pretty set with their two starting ends, Charles Grant and Will Smith. But behind them, this is one of New Orleans' thinnest positions. Second-year pro Josh Cooper, who has appeared briefly in seven career games, is next in line.

NEWCOMER REPORT: CB Usama Young has made the best first impression of any Saints draft pick so far, which is especially impressive considering he missed the first three days of camp with a quad injury. Young's speed and athleticism have been apparent in practices, which is a good indication he's playing with confidence out there -- something rookies have trouble doing during the early part of installations. Young (6-0, 194 pounds) wasn't even invited to the NFL combine out of Kent State. But he dazzled scouts by recording a 43-inch vertical leap and running the 40-yard dash in 4.39 seconds. The Saints grabbed him early in the third round because of his potential, but they've been even more impressed by what a quick study he is. Young has a lot of veterans in front of him on the depth chart, but he looks like the kind of guy who could move up the ranks quickly.

PROBLEM SPOT: If you look at last year's statistics, you'll see that the Saints ranked 31st in the NFL in takeaways. They forced only 11 interceptions and eight fumbles in the regular season, and they forced zero turnovers in two playoff games. But you don't need to check the record books to figure out the Saints' most glaring point of emphasis. Just come out and watch a training camp practice. All 11 defenders flock to the ball on every play, trying to strip it loose from ball carriers. They rush to chase down dropped passes, and players and coaches are constantly yelling "Get the ball out!" It's a new level of emphasis for a team that excelled in almost every other area last year. New Orleans also addressed the issue by adding veteran playmakers throughout the defense in free agency -- CB Jason David, S Kevin Kaesviharn, LBs Brian Simmons and Dhani Jones and DT Kendrick Clancy. It's too early to tell if any of those guys will win starting jobs away from last year's returning starters. But it already seems clear that the increased depth and competition are helping everyone.

Mike Triplett covers the Saints for the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

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