Fox Team Report 3-21
The signing of cornerback Jason Craft could have an adverse affect on veteran Ashley Ambrose. The 34-year-old veteran might have take a pay cut or face being released. Ambrose is due a $1.5 million base salary in the third year of a four-year contract. That's exorbitant for a fourth or fifth corner, which is what Ambrose is at this stage of his career. The Saints would save $750,000 by releasing Ambrose. If the Saints select a corner in the upcoming draft, it would further dim Ambrose's chances. . . .
Signing LB Levar Fisher was a good low-risk, high-reward move. A 2002 second-round pick of the Arizona Cardinals, Fisher, 25, started 15 games in 2003 but missed the 2004 season with a severe knee injury. Saints officials are rolling the dice that he's healthy. Fisher will provide depth behind Colby Bockwoldt and Derrick Rodgers on the weak side and contribute on special teams. Before the injury, Fisher displayed excellent range and athletic ability. If he's healthy, he could compete for a starting spot at a position the Saints are committed to upgrading. . . .
The re-signing of veteran DL Tony Bryant shores up depth along the defensive line. With Bryant on board, the Saints now can feel more secure in trading DE Darren Howard. Bryant gives the team quality depth at both end and tackle. He's not a great pass rusher but he's strong enough to anchor against the run and uses his 6-6 height to disrupt passing lanes.
OFFENSIVE ADJUSTMENTS: The Saints want to be a more run-oriented, ball-control offense this season. To that end, new coordinator Mike Sheppard is reducing the volume of plays in the playbook. The goal is improved efficiency. The Saints have been hounded by mental errors and penalties in recent seasons. Head coach Jim Haslett believes the scaled-down playbook will help prevent future breakdowns. He also wants to improve time of possession by running the ball more often, compliemented by a short play-action passing attack. The passing game will feature more high-percentage throws with an emphasis on short drops and quick strikes to prevent sacks and take advantage of the running skills of receivers Joe Horn, Donte' Stallworth and Devery Henderson.
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