The Saints are only hours away from their preseason debut against the San Francisco 49ers. There have certainly been allot of story lines to follow this year in training camp, which will continue tonight as fans and coaches will finally be able to get an extended look at starters as well as fringe players.
New Orleans went into the off-season with a bitter taste in their months after losing to the Seattle Seahawks in play-offs, and a real need to not only rebuild the defensive line, but re-vamp the running back group after injuries demolished the Saints rush offense in 2010.
All that has seemingly been addressed, and not it’s finally time to see if the Saints have pulled it off. Keep your eyes on the following players tonight, both veterans and rookies alike, as it could be an early indication of who will contribute this season.
Shaun Rogers and Aubrayo Frankin are the teams new run stopping experts who were brought in specifically to upgrade last seasons 16th ranked rush defense. The starters are expected to play for only twelve snaps or so, but it will be interesting to see if the Saints utilize Rogers and Franklin as the opening starters and leave Sedrick Ellis on the bench. The Saints are hoping their addition is the upgrade they have long needed on the defensive line.
Mark Ingram has been the darling of camp thus far, and early reports say the youngster out of Alabama is the real deal. Training camp aside Ingram will finally hit the field in live tackling against an NFL caliber starting defense that’s not made up of teammates. Expect he and Pierre Thomas to split time with the starting offense initially. If Ingram opens up hot against the 49ers it will not only be a great sign for the Saints, but we could be looking at the new number one running back in New Orleans.
Undrafted rookie free agent wide receivers Joe Morgan and Jarred Fayson are currently competing for a roster spot, and could nudge out both Adrian Arrington and Courtney Roby if the play their cards right. Arrington has missed practice with injury and Roby’s value as a return man has decreased since the NFL adopted kick-offs from the thirty-five yard line. Reports have been encouraging for both through two weeks of training camp, and tonight they will get plenty of opportunities to show what they can do since Marques Colston and Arrington have both been ruled out.