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New Orleans Saints mailbag kicks off with kicker questions

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; We feel for you, Saints fans. Not only do you have to survive the weekend without any black-and-gold football, but you've also got to make it through this mailbag without Jeff Duncan. ... I'll try my best to fill in. ...

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Old 10-10-2009, 12:32 AM   #1
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We feel for you, Saints fans. Not only do you have to survive the weekend without any black-and-gold football, but you've also got to make it through this mailbag without Jeff Duncan. ... I'll try my best to fill in. Next week, Jeff - and more importantly, the Saints - will be back.




Q: Last season John Carney made field goals of 47, 46, 48, 47, and 51 yards with the Giants. However, this season, Payton seems hesitant to use him from outside of 40 yards, twice choosing to go for it on 4th down (Week 3 vs. Buffalo @ the Bills' 28...conversion failed, and Week 4 vs. NY at the Jets' 28...conversion failed ). In your opinion, is it a lack of confidence in Carney's leg strength from 45 yards, or Payton's confidence that the offense can pick up the first down on 4th and short? Thanks. Kris, Ann Arbor, MI
Hey Kris, I think Payton has plenty of confidence in Carney, depending on the circumstances. He would have been fine with sending Carney out there for a 46-yard field goal, maybe even a 50- or 51-yarder inside the Superdome last Sunday, if it was fourth-and-5 or fourth-and-10. I talked to Carney afterward, and he said that was well within his range. But like you said, Payton has plenty of confidence in his offense, too, and he thought they could gain that one yard on fourth-and-1, then continue to drive in for seven points instead of three. ... Maybe it was the wrong choice, but it was worth the risk for Payton because of the field position. He didn't mind having the Jets take over at their own 28-yard line. ... As for the decision in Buffalo, that had more to do with the wind conditions, which weren't awful, but enough to make it a borderline decision. ... I don't expect to see Carney kicking a bunch of 50-yarders this year, but that's still within his range, especially indoors, and Payton trusts him. That 51-yarder last year was indoors at Minnesota, by the way.
While we're on the subject ...
Q: While it was unfortunate that Garret Hartley was suspended for four games, it came out as a blessing in disguise. Thomas Morstead has been terrific kicking off. How do you see the kicking game looking for the rest of the season? Todd, Youngsville, La.
A: I think Carney will remain the primary field-goal kicker for the rest of the year, even if he misses a couple kicks here and there. Even at 45 years old, Carney is a lot more trustworthy than Hartley, who struggled quite a bit this preseason even before he served his four-game suspension. And like you mentioned, Morstead has been so good on kickoffs that the Saints don't need the strong-legged Hartley to come back in that role. In a pinch, Morstead could even attempt a 55- or 60-yard field goal if the circumstances ever called for one. ... So I'd be very surprised to see Hartley active on any game days this year, barring injuries. I do think the Saints will consider keeping him on the 53-man roster, though, because they like his natural talent and believe he can be a future asset. I think that's what they'll start out doing, anyway, unless injuries start to pile up later this year, forcing them to use up that roster spot.
Q: I bet you'll see a ton of Sharper questions this week, but the fans know as well as the Saints front office does that Sharper was only signed to a 1 year deal. He clearly still has what it takes to be a dominant center fielder on defense. Let's face it, we have not had this kind of confidence in a safety since Sammy Knight was back there in his Pro Bowl year (and I have a lot more confidence in Sharper right now than I have had in any Saint's safety before him). How likely is it that we extend his contract prior to the end of the season? If we wait I am afraid another team will swoop in during the off-season and offer him big money. We need to lock him up at least for 3 to 4 years and let him retire a Saint. Scott Vierck, Plano, TX.
A: Hey Scott, I suppose it's possible that the Saints might work out a 1- or 2-year extension before the season ends since this has obviously been such a perfect fit for both the player and the team. But they're not going to push any panic buttons based on fears of him living for a huge payday. ... As good as he's been, Sharper is still 33 years old. And he had started to show signs of dropping off in Minnesota, which is why teams showed very little interest in investing in him long-term when he was a free agent back in March. Even the Saints were hesitant, despite their glaring need for a free safety. They waited weeks before signing him to an incentive-laden 1-year deal. ... I think his next contract will still be reasonable, and I think the Saints will have first crack at signing him, even if he hits free agency. This defensive system has clearly been a fountain of youth for him, so why would he want to go anywhere else?
Q: Lots of great story lines coming out of this undefeated season. But one thing I have noticed is there is a lack of production on two promising stories from the pre-season. Everyone was gushing about Anthony Hargrove and Robert Meachem coming into the season and since the opening kick-off against Detroit they've both gone quiet. 1 reception a game and 1 touchdown isn't much to get excited about for Meachem and Hargroves biggest highlight was the unnecessary roughness penalty in Buffalo. Where did these guys go? Thanks. Greg from Ontario, Canada
A: That's a fair question, Greg. I thought both of those players might be due for breakout seasons - and of course, it's still not too late - but both guys have dipped back under the radar during the regular season. I don't think either player has struggled; they just haven't been used all that much. ... Even with receiver Lance Moore nursing a hamstring injury, the Saints turned to Devery Henderson a lot more than Meachem. But they clearly trust Meachem. They threw to him on a crucial third-down play in the fourth quarter against the Jets last week. He's just very low in a deep pecking order of receiving options. ... At defensive tackle, meanwhile, the Saints have been featuring Sedrick Ellis quite a bit without bringing in Hargrove as a pass-rush specialist as often as they showed during the preseason. In Buffalo, they spent the entire game in a 3-4 alignment, so Hargrove barely played. But he was quietly effective against the Jets, making some nice run stops and nearly getting in on a sack that went to Will Smith. ... The good news is that the Saints appear to have plenty of options at those positions, and they'll probably need them to step into bigger roles at some point.

New Orleans Saints mailbag kicks off with kicker questions | New Orleans Saints Central - - NOLA.com

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