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Saints Training Camp Preview: Rookie Edition Part 3

Linebackers Coleman and Maxwell are long shots to make the team. More than likely they will be lucky to make the practice squad. Pro-bowler Jonathan Vilma is the quarterback of the entire defense, so his middle linebacker spot is solid. Marvin Mitchell and Jo-Lonn Dunbar have been trading off as his backup. So it will probably be Shanle, Ingram, Arnoux, Casillas as the four OLB, with two of them starting and Vilma and either Mitchell or Dunbar as backups, maybe both. Where does that leave the rookies? Nowhere. X mark for both Coleman and Maxwell.

Junior Galette and Brandon Sharpe are long shots at DE, but not without possibilities. Will Smith is the starting right DE. There is no doubt. Charles Grant, who was the starting left DE, is gone. Grant was talented, but un-motivated and injury prone. Grant ended the season on IR and they released him after the season. Because of that, the Saints signed two veterans, Alex Brown and Jimmy Wilkerson in free agency, but let Bobby McCray go to save money.

You can pencil in Alex Brown as the starter. He was only let go by the Chicago Bears to make room for Julius Peppers, who was signed to a huge contract to be the starter there. That doesn’t mean that Brown, nor Wilkerson should not be worried about the rookies Brandon Sharpe and Junior Galette. Galette was singled out by Sean Payton in OTAs as showing promise.

The Saints will probably keep four pure defensive ends at most and may be more interested in speed DEs who can also stand up and play outside linebacker in the 3-4. Gregg Williams likes to mix up formations and played the 3-4 more often than most would have expected in 2009. With that in mind, Junior Galette (258 lbs) and Brandon Sharpe (254 lbs) could be more versatile in those schemes than Jeff Charleston (265 lbs) and Alex Brown (260 lbs). There’s not much difference, but a few pounds and some speed could be the difference between a covered TE or RB and a touchdown by an opponent.

Don’t be surprised if Galette makes the team and plays a lot of snaps. It’s pretty clear that Gregg Williams is looking to get leaner and faster at DE, so that they are able to stand them up for a 3-4. Expect Brown and Smith to make the team, and a free for all at the two or three (one makes it as a linebacker?) remaining spots. Going out on a limb here, check mark for Galette and X for Sharpe.

Clint Gresham will be competing with only Jason Kyle at long snapper. Long Snapper is not a position that teams play around with. Even though Kyle is 38, he could hang on for a few more years. Gresham does have a good shot if he is incredibly consistent and shines bright in camp and pre-season. The Saints will only keep one long snapper, so Gresham will either start or not make the team. If he shows promise but not enough, he’ll be put on the practice squad. The Saints didn’t really want Kyle, but had a debacle off the field with Kevin Houser and needed a trustworthy player in a pinch to carry them through 2009. Question mark for Gresham, with a chance to start.

Chris Ivory is at a position the Saints have shown an aptitude to develop undrafted players at. Last year the Saints rotated Pierre Thomas (originally an UDFA), Mike Bell and Reggie Bush as starting running backs. Lynell Hamilton (another UDFA originally) was the backup 4th RB on the roster. With Mike Bell gone to the Eagles, the Saints have an opening in the rotation. That spot will likely be filled by either Lynell Hamilton or PJ Hill (yet another developing UDFA). Chris Ivory’s best shot to make the team is probably as the backup to the rotation, mostly for short yardage situations. Hamilton is bigger than Ivory, but wasn’t that much more effective than Pierre Thomas on short yardage. If Ivory shows a nose for getting that tough extra yard, he’s got a shot. Unless Ivory blows the doors off though, expect him to end up on the practice squad. X mark for Ivory.

So let’s look at that list again with our best guess at x and check marks:

Check 1st round:  Patrick Robinson – CB
Check 2nd round: Charles Brown – OT
Check 3rd round: Jimmy Graham – TE
? 4th round:  Al Woods – DT
Check 5th round:  Matt Tenant – C
6th round:  Sean Canfield – QB

UDFAs (in Alphebetical Order):

Montez Billings – WR
Brandon Carter – OG
Harry Coleman – LB
? Junior Galette – LB/DE
? Clint Gresham – LS
Chris Ivory – RB
Sam Maxwell – LB

? Jay Ross – DT
Brandon Sharpe – LB/DE
Andy Tanner – WR

Marcell Young – CB

That’s our summary, so bookmark your favorite camp news site, cue up your DVR for pre-season games and watch for these guys in the third and fourth quarters.  They may just surprise you!

(Note:  Since this article was written, Harry Coleman, Sam Maxwell, Brandon Sharpe and Marcell Young have all been waived.  Brandon Sharpe was replaced by Bobby McCray re-signing, making it even harder for Junior Galette.)

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2 Responses to “Saints Training Camp Preview: Rookie Edition Part 3”

  1. jcp026 says:

    I think, at worst, Brandon Carter makes the practice squad. As far as Maxwell and Coleman, I heard they’d been cut. I could be wrong, but I was rooting for both of them to make the practice squad. I don’t know what people see in Dunbar and Mitchell… I just don’t get it. I’m also rooting for Galette and Jay Ross to make the practice squad.

  2. Jean-Paul Bergeaux says:

    Dunbar and Mitchell have a lot of heart, but not a lot of speed. Especially Mitchell. The heart and drive inspires fans to cheer for them.

    I think Galette has a better shot than most UDFAs, but it’ll still be tough. Ross’ chances will have a lot to do with Al Woods’ progress this training camp. Woods was mentioned by Payton as showing promise, but he still has a lot work to do himself. Ross may end up on the practice squad to start the season, but that may not be a bad thing. DT injuries have caused problems for the Saints in recent years and he may be called up and given a shot even if he doesn’t make the 53 man roster week 1.

Leave a Reply to jcp026