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QBREES9 10-21-2009 09:10 AM

Offensive line has delivered for Saints
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Offensive line has delivered for Saints

It was a significant loss, and in seasons gone by could have spelled major trouble for the New Orleans Saints.
Through five games, however, we’ve learned that these aren’t your father’s Saints. Or your grandfather’s, either. These guys are playing out of their minds.
Jammal Brown, the Saints’ two-time Pro Bowl left tackle, was lost for the season before opening day, going on injured reserve after hip surgery. He’d already dealt with a sports hernia, and the Saints had to adjust on the fly.

Enter Jermon Bushrod.
Bushrod, a third-year offensive tackle from Towson (Md.), played only a handful of snaps in his first two seasons with the Saints. But he’s become a solidifying presence on the left side for the Saints, who have developed another offensive tackle in Zach Strief. Strief filled in for an injured Bushrod in the Saints’ 24-10 victory over the New York Jets earlier this season.
Former Saints offensive lineman Steve Korte, who is part of the WWL Radio team’s broadcasting crew, believes Bushrod was paying attention during his apprenticeship. But he’s particularly impressed with the play of Saints guards Carl Nicks and Jahri Evans, who have helped overhaul the team’s running game behind Mike Bell and Pierre Thomas.
“Originally, (Brown’s injury) was a big question mark and sort of a gray area for the Saints,” Korte said. “You really can’t just put anybody out there. But it wasn’t like he was a fresh-faced kid. He understood it was his time. He embraced the opportunity and went out and did the job.
“I think Carl Nicks and Jahri Evans are the best tandem of guards in the NFL. They are absolutely stoning people.”
At a bargain price, to boot.
Nicks, a fifth-round draft pick from Nebraska last season, earns a little more than $400,000 per year. The 6-foot-5, 343-pound lineman plays on the left side, next to Bushrod, and became a starter three games into his rookie year.
Evans, who was part of the Saints’ impressive 2006 draft class, is another gem from a small college. The 6-4, 318-pound right guard played at Bloomsburg (Pa.), an NCAA Division II program, and also broke into the starting lineup as a rookie. He takes in a modest $450,000 or so per year.
Throw in established right tackle Jon Stinchcomb, who re-upped with the Saints as a free agent over the winter, and center Jonathan Goodwin, and you’ve got an offensive line that knocks folks on their keisters in addition to providing tight protection for Drew Brees.
“If you have to pass block the whole time, you lose your sense of confidence,” said Korte, referring to a familiar plight during last year’s 8-8 season. “But when you can run the ball, you’re able to exact your will on your opponent and beat them down. I’m happy they’ve decided to embrace that.
“(Stinchcomb) has really stepped up this year. You know he’s an intelligent guy. He doesn’t make mental mistakes. I don’t know if he’s gotten stronger, but he seems to be playing more physical.”
Much like the Saints themselves.

Offensive line has delivered for Saints - Sports -

Rugby Saint II 10-21-2009 01:07 PM

Re: Offensive line has delivered for Saints
Korte made a good point about pass blocking vs. run blocking that I hadn't thought about before. If you are pass blocking it would seem that you are always defending your QB instead of attacking the defense to open holes for your running back. I can see where an Olineman would like to be aggressive and knock the defense back. Having a running game has probably helped the confidence of our Oline as much as anything else.

D_it_up 10-21-2009 01:16 PM

Re: Offensive line has delivered for Saints

Originally Posted by Rugby Saint II (Post 171732)
Having a running game has probably helped the confidence of our Oline as much as anything else.

And it turn, the excellent play of the offensive line had brought forth a pretty solid run game. It's always good when you have a good group of RB's behind a line that can bust people in the mouth to open holes for them to run through. This is the first time that I can remember where I'm elated by both sides of the ball....especially in the trenches.

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