New Orleans Saints mailbag: Will Jairus Byrd sink or swim?

hispandrix
Oct 26, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints fans cheer prior to kickoff against the Green Bay Packers at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. New Orleans defeated Green Bay 44-23. Mandatory Credit: Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 26, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints fans cheer prior to kickoff against the Green Bay Packers at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. New Orleans defeated Green Bay 44-23. Mandatory Credit: Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports /
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The New Orleans Saints are just three weeks away from reporting day for training camp, which will seem like an eternity for some.

So, I solicited the vast depths of Twitter and Facebook to gather your questions around the black and gold. As always, I thank you for your submissions and put forward the best questions received.

This is a fairly interesting question. I think Hau’oli Kikaha has a lot of talent, and had it not been for injuries last year, then he clearly would have had a much better rookie season. After all, he was on pace for some impressive numbers after several strong games to begin the year. The Saints desperately need someone to rival Galette’s production. Kikaha’s ACL injury, which he’s still not put on injured reserve mind you, is something to keep an eye on. I think Kikaha has the tools to succeed, but the only way he can do that is by staying healthy.

I think there’s an unspoken pressure put on this team to get back to the postseason. Things could have went completely different this offseason, but I believe Sean Payton squelching all the white noise out there in the way that he did set the tone for 2016. Not many are picking the Saints to do much this year, and that’s probably a good thing. Personally, I’d be surprised to see 9-7 or 10-6, but I believe it’s all in how they start the season, and most importantly how they handle the middle when they come off of the Week 5 bye. They’ll have five of six games that feature playoff teams from last season (Panthers twice, Broncos, Seahawks, and Chiefs). That’s the meat and potatoes of 2016.

I’m sure we’ll get some small things here and there (like the Darryl Tapp signing from Wednesday morning), but I’m sure you’re looking for the big splashes. I find it interesting that some key names are still out there floating around waiting for the right situation and such. If the Saints target anyone, then I’d fully expect it to be on defense.

Dwight Freeney would obviously hover at the top of the list, and it would solely depend on how the Saints feel about their pass rush situation. Mike Neal, formerly of the Green Bay Packers, would be another to keep an eye on. I would even say to keep an eye on a cornerback like a Brandon Boykin, Leon Hall (coming off back surgery), or Cortez Allen (maybe a stretch). Barring injury, I don’t see much happening, but it’s interesting to note how many players are out there that could potentially help this team.

Next: Drew Brees to play in MLB All-Star Legends and Celebrity Softball Game

The curious case of Jairus Byrd is a hard one to solve. Honestly, there’s been little to no return on his $54 million contract from 2014, and it’s easy to conclude you won’t see much changing for 2016. Byrd is starting the year hurt, again, which means we’ll be on ‘Byrd watch’ once training camp begins. Reportedly he’ll be good to go, but we’ve heard that before.

I don’t think placing sole blame on Byrd is fair, because I do believe he had some good moments in 2015. I believe the bigger issue was around communication with guys like Brandon Browner. In December, Byrd talked about said issues being an ongoing problem that kept happening over and over. It was clear that he had to try to cover for the mistakes made. When you have an inept corner not being able to do the simple tasks, what do you honestly expect?

I want to believe that this is Byrd’s year to shine with the Saints looking at more three-safety sets, but I can’t count on it right now. But, working with this set caters more to what the Saints should have done with Byrd all along.

I think the default starter is John Jenkins, but I am not convinced that he’s your solution. Nick Fairley and Sheldon Rankins are both 3-technique defensive tackles, so I highly doubt you see them starting alongside each other. Jenkins is likely rotating with second-year man Tyeler Davison to begin things, but I honestly believe Davison is the better answer. Either way, only two sacks came from both Jenkins (0.5) and Davison (1.5) last year, and that just won’t cut it for the 2016 Saints. They need someone to step it up.

Garrett Grayson has a golden opportunity in front of him, and minicamp didn’t exactly make anyone believe that he’s progressed. I still think you have to give him the benefit of the doubt, as camp sessions and preseason game action are two totally different things. Grayson will have to beat out Luke McCown, and that’s not a secret with Sean Payton’s history. I think Grayson has been on the wrong end of criticism, but he has to show us something to not end up as Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Part Two.

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