2014 DRAFT GUIDE
With Payton back, Saints head to camp with hope

By BRETT MARTEL - AP Sports Writer
    2013-07-23 13:11

METAIRIE, La. (AP) - Since Sean Payton returned from his bounty ban in January, the Saints have steered clear of scandal or contract holdouts in a blissfully uneventful offseason. With the focus back on football, optimism abounds in the Big Easy.

``Here we are, really for the first time in four years, where you feel like this is a normal offseason,'' quarterback Drew Brees said recently. ``You come to work every day with no distractions other than just focusing on football and getting better.''

The 2010 offseason was unusual in that the Saints were defending champs. In 2011, there was a lockout. Then 2012 was overshadowed by the NFL's probe of the Saints' cash-for-hits bounty system, which resulted in suspensions, fines and lost draft picks. Further complicating matters was Brees' contract holdout, which ended a couple weeks before 2012 training camp.

Brees still passed for 5,177 yards last season while leading a unit ranked second in yards per game, but such production wasn't enough to get the Saints back to the playoffs for a fourth-straight season because New Orleans' defense sank to historically low depths, yielding a single-season record 7,042 yards.

Now that Payton is back, he is refining the prolific offense he created and he's brought in new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.

Five things to know about the Saints as training camp arrives:

1. PAYTON'S PRESENCE: Payton's record speaks for itself. He coached six seasons before his suspension and in that time rebranded the once-floundering Saints as one of the most exciting teams in the NFL. With his offenses regularly at the top of the league and breaking both franchise and NFL records, he led New Orleans to the playoffs four times, to the NFC title game twice and to the franchise's first Super Bowl title in 2009-10. In his last three seasons before his suspension, the Saints made the playoffs each time, twice racking up 13 regular season wins. In his return, Payton has brought not only his ability to create mismatches with his offensive play design, but also the discipline and intensity to which his players have responded well in the past.

2. DIFFERENT DEFENSE: One of the first changes Payton made upon his return from suspension was to fire 2012 defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and hire Ryan. That meant a change from the 4-3 defensive alignment to the 3-4 preferred by Ryan. The change in scheme has meant a switch in position for several players who once were considered defensive ends and now will play outside linebacker, such as Will Smith and Junior Galette. Players say the adjustment has not been all that difficult because the Saints effectively were in a 3-4 for a number of their blitz packages when Gregg Williams was the coordinator from 2009-11.

3. VETERAN ADJUSTMENTS: As defensive captains Jonathan Vilma and Smith enter their 10th NFL seasons, they are out to prove they can be effective in altered roles. Smith played his first nine seasons at right defensive end. Now he is an outside linebacker, meaning he may have to drop into pass coverage at times. Vilma has been most effective as a middle linebacker in a 4-3. While with the Jets early in his career, he struggled when that club switched to a 3-4. Now he'll be in a 3-4 again, though Payton has said he believes Vilma can be effective on the weak side, while Curtis Lofton will be the strong side middle linebacker.

4. BREES' BLINDSIDE: For the past four seasons, Brees' blind side has been protected by left tackle Jermon Bushrod, who left during free agency for Chicago. The Saints hope 2010 second-round draft choice Charles Brown is ready to step in as a starter. Brown has been injury plagued early in his career, leaving coaches anxious about his reliability. Competing with Brown will be former St. Louis first-round pick Jason Smith, who is hoping to reinvigorate his disappointing career in New Orleans, and 2013 third-round pick Terron Armstead.

5. YOUNG RECEIVERS: The Saints have several young, inexperienced receivers vying for regular playing time behind veterans Marques Colston and Lance Moore. The front-runner appears to be Joe Morgan, who joined the club as an undrafted free agent in 2011 but did not see action in 2012 after spending his rookie year on injured reserve. Nick Toon, a 2012 fourth-round draft pick who also spent his rookie year on injured reserve, and rookie Kenny Stills, a fifth-round pick, also are looking to break into the lineup.

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

A.J. GreenSep 18 09:53a

Cincinnati Bengals WR A.J. Green (foot) is likely to play in Week 3, according to head coach Marvin Lewis.

Eric DeckerSep 18 09:32a

Updating previous reports, New York Jets WR Eric Decker (hamstring) was encouraged that he was able to do some jogging in the rehab area of the practice field Wednesday, Sept. 17.

Doug MartinSep 18 09:23a

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Doug Martin (knee) and RB Bobby Rainey are expected to split carries in Week 3 and in the near future.

Lamar MillerSep 18 12:43a

Miami Dolphins RB Lamar Miller (ankle) was not on the team's injury report Wednesday, Sept. 17.

Walter ThurmondSep 17 11:23p

New York Giants CB Trumaine McBride is expected to start in place of the injured CB Walter Thurmond (pectoral) in the Week 3 game against the Houston Texans.

Giovani BernardSep 17 11:23p

Cincinnati Bengals RB Giovani Bernard is on pace for 328 carries, while rookie RB Jeremy Hill is ticketed for 152 for a total of 480. That would be the [ More ]

Jeremy HillSep 17 11:23p

Cincinnati Bengals RB Jeremy Hill is on pace for a total of 152 carries, while RB Giovani Bernard is on pace for 328 carries. The most runs in franchise [ More ]

Eric HermanSep 17 11:23p

New York Giants OL Eric Herman is eligible to return to the team after having his four-game suspension for violation of the drug policy voided. The team has [ More ]

Drew StantonSep 17 09:45p

Arizona Cardinals QB Drew Stanton is in line to start his second straight game against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 3 with QB Carson Palmer (shoulder) sidelined. It [ More ]

John AbrahamSep 17 09:13p

Arizona Cardinals LB John Abraham (concussion), LB Alex Okafor (thigh) and DE Frostee Rucker (calf) each did not practice Wednesday, Sept. 17. LB Larry Foote (shoulder) and P Dave [ More ]

Andre EllingtonSep 17 09:13p

Arizona Cardinals RB Andre Ellington (foot) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Sept. 17.

B. Green-EllisSep 17 08:03p

Several clubs have reportedly reached out to free-agent RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis (Bengals), who is still in the process of rehab after suffering a hip injury in the preseason.

Jonathan DwyerSep 17 08:03p

Arizona Cardinals RB Jonathan Dwyer has been deactivated from all team activities Wednesday, Sept. 17. The team was made aware of allegations by the Phoenix police and are cooperating [ More ]

Marshawn LynchSep 17 07:53p

Seattle Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch (back) did not practice Wednesday, Sept. 17.

Vernon DavisSep 17 07:43p

San Francisco 49ers TE Vernon Davis (ankle) did not practice Wednesday, Sept. 17, and he is still on crutches.

Justin SmithSep 17 07:43p

San Francisco 49ers CB Tramaine Brock (toe), OT Anthony Davis (hamstring), C Marcus Martin (knee), TE Vance McDonald (knee) and DT Justin Smith (non-injury related) did not practice Wednesday, [ More ]

Terrell ManningSep 17 07:33p

Miami Dolphins LB Terrell Manning was released Wednesday, Sept. 17.

Dion LewisSep 17 07:23p

Arizona Cardinals P Drew Butler, Chicago Bears RB Shaun Draughn and WR Chris X. Williams, Houston Texans LB Jason Ankrah, Indianapolis Colts RB Dion Lewis, Jacksonville Jaguars OT Cameron [ More ]

Jonathan DwyerSep 17 07:03p

Arizona Cardinals RB Jonathan Dwyer is being questioned for a domestic violence incident, according to sources. However, he hasn't been arrested, and his status remains unchanged.

Kelvin BenjaminSep 17 07:03p

Carolina Panthers WR Kelvin Benjamin (knee) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Sept. 17.

Dwan EdwardsSep 17 06:53p

Carolina Panthers OT Byron Bell (toe), WR Philly Brown (ankle), OT Nate Chandler (toe), LB Thomas Davis (hip), DT Dwan Edwards (back), RB Mike Tolbert (chest), RB Fozzy Whittaker [ More ]

DeAngelo WilliamsSep 17 06:53p

Carolina Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams (thigh) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Sept. 17.

Shane VereenSep 17 06:43p

New England Patriots RB Shane Vereen (shoulder) has been added to this week's injury report, and he was limited in practice Wednesday, Sept. 17.

Julian EdelmanSep 17 06:43p

New England Patriots WR Julian Edelman (back) was added to the injury report and was limited in practice Wednesday, Sept. 17.

Alfonzo DennardSep 17 06:43p

New England Patriots S Don Jones (hamstring) and LB Jerod Mayo (non-injury) didn't practice Wednesday, Sept. 17. DE Michael Buchanan (ankle), LB Jamie Collins (thigh), OG Dan Connolly (knee), [ More ]

Mike PounceySep 17 06:23p

Miami Dolphins DE Terrence Fede (knee), LB Koa Misi (ankle) and OG Shelley Smith (knee) did not practice Wednesday, Sept. 17. OT Branden Albert (shoulder), S Louis Delmas (calf), [ More ]

Ryan CladySep 17 06:13p

Denver Broncos DT Marvin Austin (non-injury), LB Lerentee McCray (knee) and LB Danny Trevathan (knee) did not practice Wednesday, Sept. 17. S David Bruton (shoulder) and OG Ben Garland [ More ]

Cyrus GraySep 17 06:03p

Kansas City Chiefs DB Husain Abdullah (foot, quadriceps), RB Cyrus Gray (foot), WR Frankie Hammond (shoulder), WR Junior Hemingway (hip), OL Eric Kush (shoulder), LB Josh Martin (quadriceps, triceps) [ More ]

M. Jones-DrewSep 17 06:03p

Oakland Raiders RB Maurice Jones-Drew (hand) did not practice Wednesday, Sept. 17.

Matt McCantsSep 17 06:03p

Oakland Raiders LB Sio Moore (ankle), CB Carlos Rogers (knee), WR Rod Streater (hip) and DE Justin Tuck (illness) did not practice Wednesday, Sept. 17. CB Chimdi Chekwa (knee), [ More ]

Anthony SpencerSep 17 05:53p

Dallas Cowboys DT Davon Coleman (knee), LB Justin Durant (groin), LB Rolando McClain (groin) and RB Joseph Randle (concussion) did not practice Wednesday, Sept. 17. DT Ken Bishop (illness), [ More ]

Montell OwensSep 17 05:53p

Detroit Lions DE Ezekiel Ansah (knee), LB Travis Lewis (quadriceps) and OT LaAdrian Waddle (calf) all did not participate in practice Wednesday, Sept. 17. DT Nick Fairley (biceps), SS [ More ]

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group