The Saints are one day away from their first preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers. When they hit the field Friday it will be the first time they have done so against an opposing team since their devastating loss in the playoffs to the Seattle Seahawks.
That loss hurt the Saints, the coaches, and the players. It was a tough spill to swallow to say the least, the pain of which only amplified by the fact everyone had to stew over the loss through five months of an NFL lockout.
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger they say, and in the Saints case the loss may have been the best thing that could have happened to the team. It forced them back to the drawing board and ushered in major change on the defensive line, as well as with the running back group.
New Orleans drafted defensive end Cameron Jordan in the first round, then traded back up to take the drafts best running back in Mark Ingram also in the first round.
The Saints brought in veteran run stuffers Shaun Rogers and Aubrayo Franklin, also signing running back Darren Sproles in free agency after trading Reggie Bush to the Miami Dolphins.
There has been upgrades and depth added all over the roster, too much in fact to mention here.
Needless to say the 2011 version of the Saints we see hit the field will no doubt be the best team assembled in recent memory.
It will also be the most dangerous — the defense is better and ready to prove the Seattle game was a fluke, the run game much more potent then in previous years — making it a very good time to be a Saints fan.
Through nearly two weeks of training camp there have been some pleasant surprises and questionable injuries. Here is what we have learned so far about the 2011 Saints.