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SmashMouth 07-29-2010 06:20 AM

Saints RB's
New Orleans Saints position series: Running backs |

In anticipation of the New Orleans Saintsupcoming training camp, we will be running a series of onlineposition-by-position breakdowns with our bests guesses as to who willmake the final 53-man roster. Along with these breakdowns, we will alsorun interactive polls so that the voice of Who Dat Nation can be heard.

John McCusker/The Times-Picayune
New Orleans Saints running back Pierre Thomas
One of the potential storylines for the Saints heading into training camp will be the contract situation of Pierre Thomas. Thomas signed a one-year, $1.684 million tender early this offseason, but is still trying to negotiate a long-term deal. After rushing for 5.4 yards per carry in 2009, it was widely reported that Thomas wanted to be paid "Stephen Jackson money", referring to the St. Louis Rams' Pro Bowl tailback. Judging by both his personal history and the possibility of significant daily fines, however, it appears unlikely that Thomas will miss any time during training camp. His contract negotiations will likely have much more of an impact on the Saints' roster in the coming years than in 2010. Unless Thomas draws a hard line and decides to holdout for a significant part of the season (extremely unlikely) he will be on the Saints roster.
Likewise, don't expect Reggie Bush to be going anywhere either. Though there had been some rumblings before last year's playoff run that Bush and the Saints could be parting ways, he reminded everyone why he was so highly touted coming into the NFL with several dynamic plays during the postseason (most notably against Arizona). While Bush isn't the franchise-changing player he was expected to be, he is still an extremely dangerous change-of-pace back and a great compliment to the more downhill style of Thomas and Lynell Hamilton. Defenses must account for his presence on the field at all times, which can lead to big gains on misdirection plays, especially in an offensive system as nuanced as Sean Payton's.
With Mike Bell's departure to the Philadelphia Eagles, third-year man Lynell Hamilton figures to take over duties as the team's power back. Coach Payton has praised the 6'2", 235-pound Hamilton for his work ethic and determination. Though he doesn't have much of an NFL resume to evaluate - Hamilton has recorded 125 yards on 35 carries in his career - all indications point to him being a virtual Mike Bell clone. By letting Bell walk, the Saints saved approximately $1.6 million in salary entering an uncapped year.
The other two tailbacks in training camp - P.J Hill and undrafted rookie Chris Ivory - are both in serious danger of missing the cut. Hill was in camp last year with the Saints and failed to make the roster, then spent parts of last season on the practice squads of the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins. At 5'9", Hill has drawn comparisons to Jacksonville Jaguars' running back Maurice Jones-Drew. He could conceivably make the roster for the simply reason that it would give Coach Payton another distinctive wrinkle to throw at opposing defenses. Ivory, who transferred from Washington State to Division II Tiffin, is more of a longshot because at 6'0" and 222 pounds, his skill set is more redundant with Thomas and Hamilton both expected to make the roster.
At fullback, expect a competition between veterans Heath Evans and Jason McKie. The outcome will likely depend on the health of Evans' right knee. The 10-year veteran tore his right ACL six games into the 2009 campaign, and if there are any lingering effects the equally solid veteran McKie could capitaize. Zak Keasey, a converted linebacker, is also interesting because of his ability to play special teams. The Saints could conceivably keep either Evans or McKie, and use Keasey as the backup fullback and on special teams. Marcus Mailei is both the youngest (23) and biggest (255 pounds) fullback in camp, but is probably a longshot, as the Saints occasionally also use tight end David Thomas at the position.

Looks like they forgot about Herbie Donaldson ... the question here is who takes Bell's place? Hill or Donaldson?

jcp026 07-29-2010 07:26 AM

Re: Saints RB's
There's no doubt that Thomas, Bush, and Hamilton make the team. P.J. Hill has a really good shot if he runs like he did last preseason.

realheavyd 07-29-2010 09:34 AM

Re: Saints RB's
PJ Hill makes it on as the #4 RB for the Saints this year, IMO...

realheavyd 07-29-2010 09:41 AM

Re: Saints RB's
BTW, the 4th RB spot is up for grabs between only two guys, and Herb Donaldson is not one of them - that was last year's training camp and preseason battle, remember? Chris Ivory is the undrafted rookie free agent who will be competing head to head with Hill this time around...

Rugby Saint II 07-29-2010 10:10 AM

Re: Saints RB's
Another good battle for TC.

B_Dub_Saint 07-29-2010 12:32 PM

Re: Saints RB's
I really think the only need for our team this year is a 3rd down back. I dont know much about Hamilton so I cant judge him just yet, but I dont have good feelings about him as a back up.

God forbid PT goes down but what are we gonna do if he does. We need dept at the RB position.

Boutte 07-29-2010 09:58 PM

Re: Saints RB's

Originally Posted by B_Dub_Saint (Post 234016)
I really think the only need for our team this year is a 3rd down back. I dont know much about Hamilton so I cant judge him just yet, but I dont have good feelings about him as a back up.

God forbid PT goes down but what are we gonna do if he does. We need dept at the RB position.

You know the RBs are going to miss some time over the course of the season. But if they think they have the pieces in place I'll trust their judgment.

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