Saints Gumbo – 2015 Style

Approximately 75 days until the season opener……But hey if you’ve read this far then you are officially going through withdrawals as am I. There’s also the fact that the Saints haven’t gone into a season in recent memory with as many questions as this team. From the coaching staff to special teams to defense to offense….even the owner has had an off-season chock full of issues.
Overall
Let’s go ahead and bring up the elephant in the room. The trade of Jimmy Graham was huge, in terms of just trying to replace a player of his caliber to return of players and money that letting him go provided. The only way to truly judge how smart or terrible this trade was will come after this season and in seasons to come. But no matter how I try and understand the reasoning behind it, seeing Graham catching balls for the Hawks is painful……very painful.

Offense
With the focus that has been put on improving the defense (and it should have been) there have also been massive changes on the offensive side of the ball.

Offensive Line – Will not look the same without Grubbs in the line-up but Leito should be able to move over and fill his spot, for years now the biggest challenge has been finding a place for him to play, well this is it. Unger is a major upgrade at center, without him included in the Graham trade, that deal just would not have happened. Adding Peat into the mix at tackle as the heir apparent to Strief does nothing but add quality depth to the unit. Outlook – B

WR’s  – Colston, Cook, Joe Morgan and Toon should make up and get the majority of playing time out of the wideout’s. Joe Morgan and Toon should be pushed by several of the new comers for the remainder of the snaps but to start out they should be considered favorites. Now is the time for one or both of these players to step up, they are being given a golden opportunity to stand out and shine. Outlook – B
 
TE’s – It’s never easy to step in and replace a fan favorite as well as a talented player but Hill and Watson are being asked to do that. Both players have plenty to bring to the table. Watson, is a dependable experienced pro and for Hill the cliche “upside” is written all over him. The big question for this group is will a third player stand up, the opportunity is there and needed. Outlook – B
 
RB’s – To Mark Ingram’s credit, he showed up and showed off at times last year, and it was a good thing. Make no mistake Payton will not rely on Ingram alone and he shouldn’t have to with a healthy Robinson ready and able. Add CJ Spiller to the mix and this group should be as potent as the Saints have had over the last few years and that is saying a lot. I have to say, not seeing PT in a Saints uniform just doesn’t seem right somehow….Outlook – B+

In the next installment we’ll give the defense a once over, in the meanwhile let me know how you feel about the offense.

WhoDat!!!

Bill Stephens, SaintsGab writer, Follow Saints Gab on twitter @SaintsGab
Also check out Gridiron Chatter at http://www.gridironchatter.com/ , great place to keep up on your favorite team and the news from Fans of all the NFL Teams.

 

RB Mark Ingram Held Out of OTA’s

New Orleans Saints v Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Running back Mark Ingram didn’t practice this week, according to Saints coach Sean Payton, but the running back’s injury is not expected to be serious, Joel Erickson of the Advocate reports.

Ingram also sat out last week’s organized team activity with what Payton termed then as a foot or ankle injury, but the move is strictly precautionary.

“We just sat him,” Payton said. “Today, we sat him. It’s nothing significant. This time of the year, we want to be smart and kind of go from there.”

Saints Showing Interest in Former Bengals TE Jermaine Gresham

Cincinnati Bengals  v New Orleans Saints

The Saints are interested in former Bengals tight end Jermaine Gresham, Sean Payton confirmed on Thursday afternoon, Joel Erickson of the Advocate reports.

Gresham, who underwent surgery in March to repair a herniated disc, flew into New Orleans from Dallas and left yesterday.

But Payton did say Gresham would be a good fit for a Saints offense looking to replace Jimmy Graham‘s production at tight end.

“He’s a player we were obviously well aware of coming out of Oklahoma five years ago,” Payton said. “He’s recovering from an offseason surgery, and I thought the visit went pretty good.”

“It would be about the fit,” Payton said. “I think there’s a fit for us if it works out, and he’s a guy that we’ve studied quite a bit now in the last couple of months.”

Report: Saints LB Junior Galette Could Miss Time with Pec Injury

New Orleans Saints v Pittsburgh Steelers

The Saints could have a huge problem if the report from Fox Sports about linebacker Junior Galette turn out to be true.

The report states that Galette suffered a pectoral injury and is currently evaluating his options on whether to undergo surgery.

Here’s the info from Fox:

It’s unclear how Galette, who was absent from the team’s optional OTA workout on Thursday, suffered the injury and whether there’s a legitimate chance he could play through it. Players who undergo surgery for pectoral injuries are usually sidelined for an average of five to six months.

Galette’s agent, Alvin Keels, did not respond to an inquiry about the extent of his client’s injury and whether he will seek another opinion.

The linebacker has been a huge leader on the teams defense, and before last season inked a whopping four-year deal worth $41.5 million. If the team loses Galette, it’s going to be a massive blow to a defense that had its struggles a season ago.

Saints Come to Terms with DE Cam Jordan on Five-Year Extension

Carolina Panthers v New Orleans Saints

The Saints have agreed to terms with defensive end Cam Jordan on a five-year extension worth a maximum of $60 million that will keep Jordan under contract through the 2020 season, Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports reports. The 2011 first-round pick got $33.6 million in guaranteed money and will receive close to $27 million over the next two years.

Jordan’s camp had been negotiating with the Saints since last year, though the sides drew closer in recent weeks, and Jordan’s agents Doug Hendrickson, Ben Dogra and Eugene Parker of Relativity Sports were able to put the finishing touches on the contract this week.

Jordan, who will turn 26 in July, had a huge season in 2013, when he recorded 12 1/2 sacks. He added 7 1/2 last season, which was a solid number on a team that gave up the fifth-most points in the league and was often playing from behind. Jordan had 28 sacks in the past three seasons combined and hasn’t missed a game in his four NFL seasons.

Saints Release Veteran Kicker Shayne Graham

Green Bay Packers v New Orleans Saints

The Saints released veteran kicker Shayne Graham on Tuesday, one day after signing free agent Zach Hocker, Evan Woodbery of the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports.

Graham, 37, connected on 19 of 22 field goals for the Saints in 2014.

He joined the team late in 2013 after kicker Garrett Hartley was released.

Graham has been on an 14 NFL rosters and played for nine different teams since he entered the league in 2000 when he was signed by the Saints as an undrafted free agent. He’s connected on 266 of 311 field goals (85.5 percent) in his career.

Graham was at the Saints Hall of Fame Celebrity Golf Classic on Monday, decked out in the maroon and orange of his alma mater, Virginia Tech.

“Whatever it is, I have no control over that,” he said when asked about the signing of Hocker. “All I can do is take care of myself. … All I can do is perform my best, try to protect myself and win the job.”

Graham’s release leaves two kickers vying for the Saints job this summer. Hocker was picked by the Washington Redskins in the seventh round of the 2014 NFL Draft but failed to make the team. He signed a futures contract with the Miami Dolphins before being released.

New Orleans Could Host the Super Bowl in Either 2019 or 2020

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New Orleans could be getting the biggest game on Earth again.

The NFL has selected Miami, Tampa, New Orleans and Atlanta as finalists for the 2019 and 2020 Super Bowls, according to NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport.

All four cities’ bids will go before the owners for a vote next May. The next three Super Bowls are slated for Santa Clara, Houston and Minneapolis.

The city of New Orleans last hosted a Super Bowl in 2013 when the Ravens beat the 49’ers 34-31 in the famous ‘Harbaugh vs Harbaugh’ matchup.

It’s never wrong to plan early for the Super Bowl. Hipmunk.com will get any NFL fan to the future Super Bowl by offering flights to New Orleans through most major airline carriers. Hotels in New Orleans can be booked through Hipmunk as well, including options near the stadium to cut down any extra commute during the busy football weekend.

Saints Take Tackle Andrus Peat with 13th Pick in NFL Draft

Foster Farms Bowl - Maryland v Stanford

The Saints went with a tackle in round one to help their offensive line, as they took Stanford tackle Andrus Peat in round one.

Here’s a scouting report on Peat.

Stanford was expecting Peat to become a very good player for the Cardinal and over the past two seasons, the team wasn’t disappointed. He was reliable in pass protection and solid in run blocking. Peat has excellent size, quickness, length and athleticism. He also has a strong lower body built to get movement at the point of attack. With his overall skill set, Peat could develop into a good left tackle in the NFL.

Stanford moved David Yankey inside to guard in 2013 because of Peat. Peat lived up to the big expectations in 2014. The first-year starter had an excellent debut for the Cardinal. In the ground game, Peat did a good job of opening holes and getting movement of defenders while also being a good pass-protector. He was All-Pac-12 Second-Team selection.

Peat had another solid season in 2014 for Stanford while going up against a lot of good defensive linemen. The junior had a good game against USC in Week 2 and did well in his plays against Leonard Williams and was generally rock solid. However, Peat had a mental mistake on Stanford’s last play that led to a sack-fumble for the Trojans to clinch their win. Overall, he was fine against Washington, but he had a few plays where Huskies outside linebacker Hau’Oli Kikaha gave him problems. Generally, Peat won his blocks. Later in the year, he did well in his matchup with talented defensive end Owa Odighizuwa in closing out the regular season against UCLA.

As a run-blocker, Peat is strong at the point of attack. When he stays low with good knee bend, he has a lot of power in his lower body to drive defensive linemen out of their gap. He is quick to the second level and strong to latch onto defenders. Peat could fit a zone-blocking or power-man scheme in the NFL.

In the passing game, Peat is reliable. He can have some occasional lapses, but he has the skill set to be a left tackle in the NFL. Peat’s feet are quick enough to handle speed rushers, and he has excellent length to make it hard for defenders to get around him. Peat also has the strength in his base to hold up against bull rushes. He could use more work on his knee bend and not reaching for defenders. Sometimes that can hurt them when they cut to the inside or try and go around him.