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Saints Run Defense Suffering After Loss Of Defensive Tackle Sedrick Ellis

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Sedrick Ellis, the Saints first round pick in the 2008 draft, has anchored the middle of the Saints defensive line since his rookie season and has become a big part of the Saints success in defending the run.

Through six games this season Ellis has totaled 15 tackles, one sack and two pass deflections while helping the Saints achieve a sixth ranked run defense that has only allowed 91 yards a game on the ground.

New Orleans had yet to give up a one hundred yard rusher through the first six games with Ellis starting and opposing running backs were averaging only a 3.9 yard per carry average.

Unfortunately Ellis wen down in the second half of the Saints win against the Dolphins when a Dolphin player rolled up his knee, it turned out Ellis suffered an MCL sprain (sprained knee) the severity of which has yet to be fully disclosed by the team.

The injury knocked Ellis out of the Saints last game against the Atlanta Falcons and without him in the lineup, being replaced by Anthony Hargrove, the Saints had their worst outing of the season.

Atlanta running back Michael Turner gashed the Saints run defense to the tune of 151 yards rushing and one touchdown, he averaged 7.6 yards a carry with a long rush of 37 yards.

A far cry from what the Saints had achieved with Ellis starting.

Going into the game Turner had barely averaged 3.4 yards per carry and his highest rushing total was 105 yards against the Carolina Panthers in week 2.

It’s rumored that Ellis could miss as much as six weeks with the knee injury and judging by the past recovery times of both Saints running backs Mike Bell and Pierre Thomas, who suffered the same injury, Ellis could easily be out four weeks.

Bell and Thomas both were sidelined for exactly four weeks with MCL sprains.

The Saints next two games come against teams who run to setup the pass, a home game against Carolina this Sunday then an away game at St.Louis next Sunday.

Carolina has the dual rushing threat of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, last week against the Cardinals they combined for 245 yards and two touchdowns.

Williams was the leading rusher with 158 yards on 23 carries for a 6.9 yard per carry average.

After averaging 97.3 rushing yards in their first four games, the Panthers have run for 653 yards in their last three contests and currently rank 5th in the NFL in total rushing with 149 yards a game.

St.Louis is a team that lacks any true offensive identity but seems to be content riding the coat tails of running back Steven Jackson.

Jackson has lead the league in rushing this season and currently averages nearly 100 yards a game and 4.9 yards per carry.

In the last two games Jackson has rushed for 283 yards while averaging a healthy 6 yards per carry.

With Ellis likely to miss both games it appears to be an uphill battle for the Saints to contain these running backs, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams better change his scheme to accommodate the new weakness the Saints have with their run defense.

Possibly running a 3-4 scheme in run situations may help New Orleans in the long run until Ellis makes his return to the playing field, in the meantime the Saints should walk away with victories in both games because the Panthers cannot play from behind and the Rams are simply an awful team offensively and defensively.

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