We’ll next look at the inside men, the Guards. Jahri Evans, who has been a Saint since 2006, and arguably our most prized possession on the offensive line, enters his 9th season for the Black & Gold. He is due to turn 30 in August, but shows little to no signs of slowing. Evans has started every game for the Saints since 2006, something nearly unheard of, or at least is less common in today’s game. Evans humbly saved the Saints $4.2M in salary cap space on February 27th. Perhaps the only concern for Evans is the arthroscopic knee surgery (left knee) that he underwent this offseason. He is currently limited in OTAs. I’ll gladly keep my faith & money on Evans being another All-Pro, Pro Bowler this season.
Evans’ partner in crime, Ben Grubbs, enters his second season for the Saints after coming over from Baltimore to replace Carl Nicks. Grubbs, 29, proved to be a more than adequate addition for the Saints. He also restructured his deal at the end of February, which saved the Saints $4M is cap space. Perhaps the most likeable thing about Grubbs is the charity work. He had his recent Charity Softball Game, which helped benefit the local Boys & Girls Club. If you haven’t checked out his Foundation, do so! Grubbs started all 16 games for the Saints last season, and along with de la Puente, played all 1,107 offensive snaps in 2012 (Evans missed 2, Bushrod 4). Look for Grubbs to continue being a strong staple on the Saints offensive line, and increasingly grow his popularity with the Who Dat Nation.
The depth chart for Guard then has a ton of youthful talent, which includes: Eric Olsen, Jeremiah Warren, Tim Lelito, Rick Henry, & Andrew Tiller. Olsen, 24, found himself playing somewhat at times, especially during some blocking attacks as a 6th lineman, and will continue to grow with the offense. What can be said about the Guard depth is the experience in front of them to learn from. Andrew Tiller, the Saints 2012 6th Round Pick from Syracuse, never saw action much, as he tore his triceps muscle in August. It will be interesting to see how he fairs coming off of this injury, and will be one to watch during camp & preseason action. You may know (or not know) of Rick Henry, who spent the majority of his 2012 season on the Saints practice squad. The Charles Brown injury earned him a spot on the active roster. Henry, 25, enters his final year with the Saints. Jeremiah Warren, 25, was a recent addition for the Saints on May 13th, as he was waived by the Cardinals on April 29th. Tim Lelito, 23, received a phone call quickly after the draft concluded. Lelito played ball at Grand Valley State, where he started 45 consecutive games for them, and was named Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Lineman of the Year.