||08-06-2003 08:49 AM
Insider's Saints Position Battles!!!
I got this from ESPN.com
New Orleans Saints
Wide Receiver Exp Ht Wt Notes
Donte' Stallworth 2 6-0 195 Scored 8 touchdowns his rookie season as a backup, more than starter Joe Horn. Can flat out run. Can even outrun the safety coming over the top who has a 20 yard head start on him. Suffered from hamstring problems last year but has worked with a physical therapist to improve his stretching. Will be much improved this year in his route running. Has the potential to be a perennial Pro Bowler.
Jerome Pathon 6 6-0 180 A very quick receiver, breaks in and out of cuts incredibly fast to lose defenders. Excellent route runner with soft hands but has been very injury prone over his career. May be best suited to play out of the slot, so everyone concerned is hoping Stallworth is ready to take over the starting job.
Cornerback Exp Ht Wt Notes
Fred Thomas 8 5-9 185 Plays much bigger than his size. Can blanket receivers and likes to challenge them right at the line of scrimmage and dare them to lose him. Most glaring weakness is his jumping ability. Offenses will target him in the red zone.
Ashley Ambrose 12 5-10 190 He really slowed down the past two years in Atlanta but does a good job of reading the quarterback and jumping routes. Will need a safety to keep an eye on him. He's never been good against the run.
Keyou Craver 2 5-10 195 Has good size, speed, leaping ability, and agility to become a future starter. However, didn't play with aggression, instead he let the play come to him as a rookie. With more experience and a full season in the system, hopefully he will stop being afraid of getting beat.
Defensive Tackle Exp Ht Wt Notes
Johnathan Sullivan R 6-3 315 The Saints traded up to the sixth overall pick to take Sullivan, a raw but incredibly athletic tackle. Plays hard and is both durable and consistent. He'll have to learn on the job as the Saints need him to start right away.
Kenny Smith 3 6-4 295 A good pass rusher with a quick first step and short area speed, Smith has impressed coaches with his desire to get better. Probably better off as a reserve, but he's been working with the first team defense for lack of anyone better being on the roster.
Henry Ford 9 6-3 295 Signed at the start of camp and will be slowly worked into the playing rotation. Ford played all 8 previous seasons with the Titans, starting 76 games. Can be a good situational pass rusher.
Grady Jackson 7 6-2 345 Signed as a free agent from the Raiders before last season and used his entire signing bonus on fatburgers. Ballooned to 400 pounds last season, then avoided the team's offseason conditioning program. It turned out he was crash dieting though since he showed up at camp at a svelte looking 345. He has flashes of dominating opponents, but you only see it once or twice a game.
Martin Chase 6 6-2 310 A hard worker, smart, and has a wide body to play the run. One of the few tackles on the roster that can play 2-gap and take on an offensive lineman heads up. Will not contribute much as a pass rusher.
Weak Side Linebacker Exp Ht Wt Notes
Derrick Rodgers 7 6-1 230 Wildly inconsistent play finally led to his dismissal from the Dolphins. Is good at playing the run but has problems in coverage. Opposite of what you would expect from a weakside 'backer. Can recognize plays quickly because of his experience. Started 89 of a possible 96 games over 6 years in Miami.
James Allen 2 6-2 240 Very quick. Stood out his rookie year with his special teams play. Can make plays sideline to sideline and he should be a good blitzer but we haven't seen that from him yet. Doesn't like to get physical and will try to run around blockers. Did put on 15 pounds of muscle since being drafted.
Middle Linebacker Exp Ht Wt Notes
Orlando Ruff 5 6-3 250 Signed from the Chargers with the intention of playing him on running downs, then replacing him with Darrin Smith in passing situations. Started two years with the Chargers, but rarely beat Junior Seau to the ball.
Darrin Smith 11 6-1 235 Still has the speed after all these years to smother running backs and tight ends in coverage. A good tackler with some blitzing ability as well. Might be finally slowing down at age 33.
Cie Grant R 6-0 240 A versatile player who spent time at three different positions, safety, cornerback, and outside linebacker, now gets to try a fourth. Bulked up in the offseason to take on blockers, and the coaches love his running ability and athleticism. He's very raw, but will eventually eliminate the committee approach with Ruff and Smith.
Right Tackle Exp Ht Wt
Victor Riley 6 6-5 330 The original plan was for Riley to show what he could do for one year with the Saints and then hit the free agent market for a big money deal, but he showed up out of shape and couldn't beat out Folau for the starting job and was later arrested for DWI. He regrouped, signed a contract extension in November to extend the plan a year, and came to camp this year in much better shape.
Spencer Folau 7 6-5 300 Works incredibly hard and is a good pass blocker because of his lateral movement and balance. Gets between the defender and the ball but doesn't push his man back. Coaches keep trying to replace him and he keeps finding a way into the starting lineup.
Jon Stinchcomb R 6-5 300 Second-round draft pick will definitely back up Wayne Gandy at left tackle, his natural position. Uses great technique, never puts a foot wrong and has very impressive workout numbers. But on film he rarely plays with strength. His older brother Matt plays with the Raiders.
Tight End Exp Ht Wt Notes
Ernie Conwell 8 6-2 265 This long-time Ram surprised his former team by jumping ship to the Saints. Is a better blocker when lined up off the ball where he can take an angle on a defender. Excellent hands. Very consistent. The Rams would occasionally give him a hand off as well.
David Sloan 9 6-6 260 A one-time Pro Bowler who was rendered ineffective by toe and knee injuries last year. Both required surgery in the offseason. He is a much better receiver than blocker. Scored 7 touchdowns in 2001. If he is healthy, he has a good chance of beating out Conwell.
Boo Williams 3 6-4 270 Can stretch defenses down the middle, and can be a serious mismatch over safeties with his size. Lacked consistency and was a poor blocker his first two seasons. Put on 20 pounds of muscle this offseason, but how will it affect his speed?
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