The team that controls the trenches, controls the game and that makes our preview of the New Orleans Saints defensive line so important. If these guys can win their respective positions in min camp and training camp, they’ll make the Saints defense look good during the season.
The most notable absence this week in minicamp will be defensive tackle John Jenkins who is recovering from minor pectoral muscle surgery. He is expected to play a bigger role in the center of the defensive line this year. We’ll have to wait til training camp to see if he is ready. He rotated with nose tackle Brodrick Bunkley last year.
Bunkley may not be the a dominant nose tackle, but he is certainly effective. He is a physical presence at the point of attack and finds a way of disrupting running plays. He earned a lot of respect from everyone on the team when he took a paycut to help the Saints sign CB Champ Bailey and S Rafael Bush. Bunkley could most likely be the starter but he better keep an eye over his shoulder for the next defensive lineman looking to make a run for the starting role.
Akiem Hicks is becoming a fan favorite because of his ability to make plays when they need to be made. He was a big part of the reason why the Saints were ranked high defensively last year. He is poised to make a huge leap this year partly because he will be in the same role and same defensive system that he was in last year with defensive coordinator Rob Ryan (his rookie season was under Steve Spagnuolo). He is listed as a defensive end on the roster but I have a feeling he will unseat Bunkley as the starting nose tackle.
You can call Akron rookie Moses McCray the odd man out, but he will definitely have an opportunity to prove himself with John Jenkins being absent. The Saints staff will be watching him earnestly to see if he can stand out from the rest of the nose tackles.