Wednesday, September 26, 2018 4:51 PM America
Alvin Kamara is on a torrid pace in his second season and there’s no slowing down. Over the offseason, there was plenty of talk that Alvin Kamara might be headed for a sophomore slump. That the odds of him replicating his 2017 Season in which he won Offensive Rookie of the Year were slim to none. That opposing defenses would have tape on him for 2018 and be able to greatly limit what he could do this year.
The bottom line is that Alvin Kamara is averaging 143 yards from scrimmage through three games in 2018. Last year he was averaging 97 yards per game. The pace will slow down once Mark Ingram returns in Week 4. There’s no doubt of that. But what we’re seeing from Kamara so far this season is staggering.
We’re starting to see the emergence of a running back along the lines of Marshall Faulk. And, yes, that’s saying a lot. Faulk, in his 1999 Season, put up 2,429 yards from scrimmage. That’s a 151 yard per game average. Kamara is getting close. That was Faulk’s sixth year in the league and his first year with the Rams.
Alvin Kamara became just the second player in the Super Bowl era with at least 15 rushes and 15 receptions in a single game, according to ESPN Stats and Information (the other was the Vikings' Rickey Young in 1979). Kamara was the first RB with 15 catches in a game since Atlanta's William Andrews in 1981.Saints coach Sean Payton insisted that he didn't want to overwork Kamara during Mark Ingram's four-game suspension. But all of the Saints' games have been close -- and Kamara is just too good every time he touches the ball.
the fact is that Kamara is as much a receiver as a runner. Though he’s also extremely talented as a runner, his greatest strength is catching the ball and then making things happen in the open field. Should the Saints decide to move on from Mark Ingram in 2019, if he demands too much money, the Saints will be fine with Kamara and whoever else they line up along with him.
Thursday, September 20, 2018 3:46 PM America
Drew Brees turned 39 this year and will be the oldest player on the New Orleans Saints’ roster when the 2018 season begins, and judging by his health and conditioning, and the numbers he can still put up, the quarterback is clearly doing something right.
With that run of excellence in mind, the brain trust at ESPN recently involved Brees in one of their bold predictions for the future of pro football, that Brees would eventually play longer than 40 year old Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
Brady and Brees’ professional careers began only a year apart. Brady, a product of Michigan University, was drafted infamously late with the 199th pick in the 6th round of the 2000 NFL draft by the New England Patriots. You can watch him cry about it in this clip. Brees, a product of Big Ten rival Purdue, was drafted with the 32nd pick in the 2nd round of the 2001 NFL draft by the San Diego Chargers.
Brady stands 6-foot-4 and 225-lbs, while Brees barely makes 6-foot and 209-lbs. Brady has played in 237 games over 18 seasons which averages to 13.2 games played per season. Aside from riding the bench as a rookie through the first game in 2001, 15 games in 2008 to an ACL tear, and 4 games in 2016 to league mandated suspension, Brady has played all 16 games of every season of his career. Brees has played in 233 games over 17 seasons which averages to 13.7 games played per season. Brees has played in all 16 games in 11 seasons, while playing in 15 another three. Both quarterbacks have been the picture of health, availability, and consistency over their respective tenures.
Since joining the Saints in 2006, Brees has thrown for more yards than Brady in every season except two (2007, 2009), including passing for over 5,000 yards in 5 seasons compared to Brady’s one season hitting that elusive mark. Over their entire careers, Brees has passed for 4,529 more yards than Brady, while also averaging 23.9 more yards per game than the chin-dippled one.
So yes, Brees has a major advantage heading into the matchup in more ways than one. How do you think the matchup between two of the best quarterbacks in NFL history will go down?
Friday, September 14, 2018 4:39 PM America
Veteran offensive lineman Jermon Bushrod wasn't out of work for long. The Saints re-signed him Wednesday after releasing him on Saturday. They released another veteran offensive lineman, Michael Ola, to make room. Bushrod told reporters Thursday that he was released in part because he had to miss two days of practice last week because of a personal matter that he preferred to keep private.
"I just get another opportunity at the end of the day," he said. "And we get another opportunity to go and do what we got to do."
Bushrod was released by the Saints on Saturday (Sept. 8), before New Orleans' 48-40 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, in order to create a roster spot for running back Jonathan Williams, who was elevated from the team's practice squad.
Bushrod said he understood the Saints' decision, as he missed a couple practices for personal reasons leading up to the opener.
"Obviously, I wasn't here for a couple days last week so me being ready to go for the game wasn't in the plan," Bushrod said. Bushrod would have loved to be in uniform for the opener.
"You never want to see your guys go out there and not be able to get the W," Bushrod said. "You always want to be a part of the good times and the bad times." Bushrod is expected to suit up this weekend when the Saints host the Cleveland Browns in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday at noon.
Wednesday, September 12, 2018 2:49 PM America
Coming into their regular season opener at the Superdome last weekend, the reigning NFC South champions started the 2018 year off with an 0-1 record, falling to the lowly Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a 48-40 game that wasn’t as close as the score indicated.
Thanks to a series of bad defensive mistakes, both up near the line of scrimmage when guarding against the rush, and on the back end that saw the Bucs receivers expose them on a series of long gains downfield, the Saints’ defense looked more like it did in the 2014 season than it did in 2017.
“We needed this, we needed to get to slapped in our face one good time to see that we’re not on the level we think we’re on. But we’re gonna get better.” said Marshon Lattimore.
Lattimore was a Day 1 starter and impact player on the Saints’ rejuvenated defensive secondary last season, establishing himself as one of the most productive and effective features on any defense in the NFL’s 2017 class.
He led all NFL rookies with five interceptions, one of which he scored for a touchdown, adding 52 total tackles on the season, forced a fumble, and broke up 18 passes, a team high overall and the most among rookie defensive players. He did not allow a touchdown to be scored in his coverage.
The Saints’ cornerbacks did not have a good outing on Sunday. Starting on the right side, Ken Crawley surrendered a number of passes to the Bucs receivers downfield as Ryan Fitzpatrick connected on 21 of his 28 passes for 417 yards and four touchdowns, while Lattimore was on the wrong end of a 50 yard touchdown from Fitzpatrick to Mike Evans. In all of last season as the eventual Defensive Rookie of the Year, Lattimore did not allow a single touchdown in his coverage.
2017 defensive rookie of the year Marshon Lattimore was a victim a few times on Sunday and the defense as a whole said the performance in the Dome was eye-opening, but Lattimore isn't too concerned.
"We couldn't stop anything. That's not going to get us down though. We still together, we still brothers," Lattimore explained. "At the end of the day we got to go back and see what we did wrong and just step it up. That's all we got to do. We not going to fall apart because of this. We still tight. We still a tight group so it is what it is. We good." Defensive end Cameron Jordan said, "We've got a wake-up call for sure. Good for us, it's week one that we can address it this early. We're going to do just that." Now, the Saints need to jump start that formula before things get out of hand.
Friday, September 07, 2018 2:55 PM America
Saints record-setting quarterback Drew Brees has his three most productive receiving targets back from last season.
The addition of free agent Cameron Meredith and rookie Tre’Quan Smith, combined with the four-game suspension of 2017 rushing leader Mark Ingram, has set the stage for the Saints to revert to a more pass-heavy attack.
The 6-foot-3 Meredith is eager to regain his form of two seasons ago, when he was Chicago’s leading receiver. He missed 2017 with torn knee ligaments and also has been limited this preseason. On Wednesday, Meredith practiced fully and said he feels ready to immediately contribute to the offense.
“First of all, when you’ve got a future Hall-of-Fame quarterback at the reins, anything is possible,” Meredith said. “Drew’s all about timing, so right now we’re making up for lost time kind of, me and him specifically, getting our chemistry, our timing down. A lot of those windows (to complete passes) open up and close real fast.”
“Coming back this year feels great,” Meredith added. “I just need to pick up where I left off.” It's unclear how big of a role Saints WR Cameron Meredith will play in Week 1 since they also kept fellow slot receiver Austin Carr on their 53-man roster. But it's worth nothing that Meredith was a full participant on the first official practice report Wednesday after recovering from the major knee injury that wiped out his 2017 season with the Bears.
Meredith said that is significant as he pointed to the advice that Kobe Bryant gave Gordon Hayward last year – that “if you focus on the mini-milestones along the way, you will find beauty in the struggle.” Meredith also joked that, “I've been asked how I feel about every day for the past year or so,” so he looks forward to a day when that's no longer the case.
Wednesday, September 05, 2018 4:14 PM America
It took just one day for former New England Patriots running back Mike Gillislee to find a new team. According to a report from NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, Gillislee will sign a one-year deal with the New Orleans Saints. Gillislee was cut by the Pats on Saturday. The 27-year-old appeared in nine games in two seasons with New England.
The Saints need some help at running back early in the season, as Mark Ingram will be suspended for the first four games of the year. Alvin Kamara is the team's primary pass-catcher out of the backfield and had a monster rookie season, but his size (5'10", 215 lbs) makes it a little questionable whether he can withstand a full workload. Rookie sixth-round pick Boston Scott could also play a pivotal role in the backfield.
Gillislee would be a good complement to Kamara as a power runner and goal line guy while Ingram is unavailable.But should Kamara’s owners be on vulture alert?
Kamara had 25 red zone carries last year, which was good for a 35 percent share of the Saints; red zone carries. Ingram had 33 red zone carries, which accounted for a 46 percent share (h/t to Football Diehards). While Kamarashould take on some more red zone work, the rest of Ingram’s share is available over the first month of the season.
Of Gillislee’s 13 rushing touchdowns over the last two seasons, 12 have come from inside the five-yard line on a combined total of 18 carries from that range. That creates the potential for a significant touchdown vulture, no matter what team he signs with.
Kamara is a top 5-to-10 pick in fantasy drafts, and he’s even considered a candidate to go No. 1 overall by high-end optimists. A repeat of last year’s efficiency and big plays is unlikely, but that regression is being offset by the likelihood of a bigger workload.
Gillislee signs with the Saints it’s most likely short-term proposition, and he may be seeking (and be able to find) an opportunity to contribute to a team beyond Week 4. While he wouldn’t torpedo Kamara’s fantasy prospects upon landing with New Orleans, Gillislee could siphon a fair amount of value from one of last year’s breakout fantasy stars.
Friday, August 31, 2018 3:12 PM America
Cameron Meredith came to the New Orleans Saints this offseason from the Chicago Bears in a move that the reigning NFC South champions believe gives them perhaps the most efficient slot receiver working in the game today. They made the acquisition even though Meredith missed all of last season after tearing the ACL in his knee during an exhibition game last summer, and this year, he has predictably been involved in a limited capacity during the Saints’ offseason preparation.
Cameron Meredith's first catch of the preseason was a monster -- 56 yards in the first quarter of Thursday's preseason finale against the Rams when he made the cornerback bite badly on a double move. Meredith has been off to a slow start with the Saints, in part because of a minor injury that sidelined him for a couple weeks early in training camp. So it's no lock that he'll be one of the team's top four receivers in Week 1. But a play like that will certainly help propel him forward. And his potential is still very intriguing in New Orleans' offense.
An undrafted free agent from Illinois State three years ago, Meredith had 66 catches against 96 targets for 888 yards and four touchdowns for the Bears in 2016, the best marks for the whole team, outpacing Alshon Jeffery’s 52 receptions for 821 yards and two touchdowns.
Meredith and Saints head coach Sean Payton have to feel great about this highlight with so much instability in the receiver corps. If Meredith is on track to return to his 2016 form, he’ll be a dangerous weapon in the regular season for future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees.
Wednesday, August 29, 2018 11:26 AM America
The first impression Marcus Davenport Marcus Davenport left in the NFL last Saturday looked a lot like the scouting reports on him coming out of UTSA.
Davenport displayed eye-popping athleticism against the Chargers, the kind of athleticism that can make plays right away in the NFL.
But he's got a long way to go to bring that athleticism to bear on every down, the way the Saints envisioned he would when they traded two first-round picks to the Packers in order to move up and take Davenport at No. 14. This year's first-round pick, Davenport missed three weeks of training camp due to a groin injury, and defensive coordinator Dennis Allen said the rookie is behind because of the time away.
Still, during Davenport's 15 snaps, he showed why he could make an impact as a rookie, even if the team still doesn't know his role.
"I think that's still to be determined," Allen said. "Certainly, we didn't draft him just to be a situational pass rusher. We drafted this guy to be an every-down player, so that's what we're working to do, to try to get him ready to do that. We'll continue to put him in those situations, and hopefully he'll be ready to answer the challenge."
As Allen said, though, the team expects Davenport to eventually become an every-down player, but it's unclear how long it'll take the rookie to be comfortable with a heavy workload. Cameron Jordan will start at left defensive end, and Alex Okafor appears on track to be healthy enough to start at right defensive end in Week 1. Trey Hendrickson could also play a sizable role, which makes it tougher to project how much Davenport will contribute at the start of the season.
Fundamentally, Davenport is still raw, the product of missing three weeks of training camp due to a pulled groin. At 6-foot-6, Davenport is often one of the tallest players on the field, an asset that can be an advantage if used correctly, but also can be a detriment if he plays with poor technique.
The problem was evident on a few snaps on Saturday. Marcus Davenport Jersey . "He had some good plays," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "There's some things that he has to correct. His pad level was high, which isn’t that unusual in his first game. He was active on a handful plays."
Payton said the Saints plan to give Davenport a lot of work in Thursday's preseason finale against the Los Angeles Rams. After missing the first two exhibitions, Davenport could use the work, and the Saints are looking forward to having a better grasp of what he can do after seeing a glimpse last week.
Tuesday, August 28, 2018 5:45 PM America
After a valuable week of joint practices with the Los Angeles Chargers, New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton felt comfortable extending that open approach to their preseason game by calling everything from a fake punt to multiple 2-point conversions.
Alvin Kamara rushed four times for 16 yards and one touchdown during Saturday's preseason game against the Chargers. He also caught one of two targets for 10 yards.Kamara polished off the Saints' first scoring drive of the game with a two-yard rushing plunge. Set to operate as the team's clear workhorse out of the backfield with Mark Ingram suspended the first four weeks of the year, Kamara might continue to be a prominent figure in the team's goal-line offense from the outset of the upcoming campaign. With that said, New Orleans could also lean on the bigger Jonathan Williams (6-foot, 223 pounds) when it gets in close.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees was 7 of 9 for 59 yards with an interception in three series, while Philip Rivers was 5 of 7 for 29 yards in a brief tuneup appearance for the Chargers. This was the second consecutive year the Chargers hosted the Saints in a preseason game at StubHub Center following practices between the teams in Orange County. While the workouts came later in training camp than usual, the Saints built off two productive days with a strong performance in the traditional dress rehearsal for the regular season
Friday, August 24, 2018 5:46 PM America
Great development for the Saints as veteran DE Alex Okafor is already back doing some work in practice Wednesday, just a week after last week's injury scare (bone bruise in his knee and sprained ankle, per source).
Okafor only participated in a portion of practice with the Chargers and did not do any full-team work, but the fact that the veteran is already in uniform and getting in some work is a good sign. A week ago, Okafor suffered a bone bruise in his knee and a sprained ankle in practice. "He'll be back here fairly soon," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "Fortunately, his injury last week wasn't anything significant."
Last week, it seemed significant. Okafor went down in a practice session and had to be attended to by several of the team’s trainers. During that time, many of his teammates surrounded the player and got down on one knee and the Saints’ practice area was completely silent. Okafor was able to walk off the field himself, but with a limp.
In the days that followed, reports emerged that Okafor had avoided serious injury, instead sustaining what was speculated to be a minor bone bruise and ankle sprain, with no timetable given for his eventual recovery. His presence at the Saints’ joint practice session with the Chargers, in full pads, is needless to say a very good sign for him.
It is not known if Okafor will be available to play in the Saints’ third exhibition against the Los Angeles Chargers on Saturday night, though it’s likely the team will err on the side of caution with a player of his importance in a meaningless game. Any serious damage to Okafor could have spelled disaster for the Saints’ defensive line rotation as rookie first round draft pick Marcus Davenport had been unable to practice fully for the past three weeks with what reports describe as a groin injury.