2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Saints eager to test running game in scrimmage

By BRETT MARTEL - AP Sports Writer
    2013-08-02 16:06

METAIRIE, La. (AP) - The New Orleans Saints are about to get a better sense of whether all their talk about improving their running game is amounting to much on the field.

After eight days of training camp in which contact was limited, the Saints line up for a scrimmage on Saturday in which linemen such as All-Pro guard Jahri Evans will try to blow open holes at full force for running backs Mark Ingram, Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles.

``We got to see how it looks'' on Saturday, Evans said of the running game following Friday's practice. ``It's going to be a point of emphasis. Everybody's making it seem that way and our position in the run game last year wasn't pleasing to us at all.''

New Orleans ranked 25th in the NFL in yards rushing per game last season with 98.5. Coaches and players alike see no coincidence in that ranking and the fact that the Saints went 7-9, tying their worst record since Sean Payton took over as head coach in 2006.

``The ground game hurt us last year a lot,'' Thomas said. ``We weren't balanced. ... This is something we really need to focus on.''

As prolific as Drew Brees and New Orleans' record-setting passing offense have been during the Payton era, the Saints have won more when they've been able to run consistently.

In three of the Saints' last four playoff seasons, they ran the ball more than 40 percent of the time, with 2010 (38.1 percent) being the lone exception, but also the worst of the four playoff seasons. On their way to their lone Super Bowl title in 2009, the Saints ran the ball on 47.3 percent of their plays, the best balance they've had under Payton.

In each of their three non-playoff seasons since 2006, their percentage of running plays was below 40. Last season was their least balanced, with 37.2 percent runs.

``Obviously with a guy like Drew Brees, it's not a bad thing to go to the air,'' Evans said. ``But I think we did pass a lot more last year than we have in the past and we know that.''

Payton, of course, was not on the sideline last season, banned by the league for failing to stop former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams' cash-for-hits bounty program.

Since Payton has returned, he's made it clear that he wants to see more of the ground game, but stressed that it's more complicated than simply calling more running plays. He noted that the Saints will run more when they're either protecting leads or have more favorable down-and-distance situations. He also noted that getting and protecting leads, as well as having good field position, often hinges on how a team performs on defense - in which New Orleans ranked last in 2012 - and on special teams.

``You want to have balance and yet it's hard to do if you're behind. You want to control the clock and time of possession and yet you're giving up big plays and not playing well on defense,'' Payton said. ``All those things lead to more challenging snaps, more third downs and less opportunities to run.

``That ability to control the game in the second half involves a run game,'' Payton continued. ``It's just harder to do when you're behind.''

One thing Payton has not done is look to overhaul the offensive line or running back corps. He's expressed confidence that the Saints have the personnel to get the job done in the ground game if they have a better chance to get into the rhythm of a game.

Brees agreed.

``They are a great stable backs. They can do everything. All of them can block. All of them can run - inside, outside. They can all catch the ball out of the backfield. They are all smart, tough, disciplined, reliable,'' Brees said. ``Anytime you can get the run game going, especially early in the game, it opens up so much in the pass game. We want to be very complimentary. So, where the run game is setting up the pass, the pass is setting up the run.''

NOTES: RB Mark Ingram returned to practice on Friday after Payton said that Ingram was given Thursday off to rest. ... Practice was briefly interrupted when a 59-year-old man slipped through a barricade surrounding the practice fields and started toward players before being quickly wrestled to the ground and handcuffed by Jefferson Parish Sheriff's deputies. Sherriff's spokesman John Fortunato said David Mobley of Houma, La., was booked into Parish jail on one count each of remaining after forbidden, resisting arrest and battery on a police officer. ... Payton said reserve QB Seneca Wallace likely won't play in Saturday's scrimmage because of a sore groin that has sidelined him three practices.

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Peyton ManningJan 30 12:52p

Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning may make a decision on whether he plans to return for another season in the near future, according to his dad, Archie Manning. Archie [ More ]

Brandon MarshallJan 30 10:42a

Chicago Bears WR Brandon Marshall may not return to the team in 2015, in the opinion of ESPNChicago.com's Michael C. Wright. The thinking is that Marshall and WR Alshon [ More ]

LeSean McCoyJan 30 02:32a

Philadelphia Eagles RB LeSean McCoy has said he would restructure his contract to lower the $11.95 million cap hit for 2015, but he will not take a pay cut.

Larry FitzgeraldJan 29 05:52p

Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald's new contract should be able to get worked out this offseason, according to team president Michael Bidwill. 'Larry and I have met about it, [ More ]

Earl ThomasJan 29 01:12p

Seattle Seahawks FS Earl Thomas (shoulder) was administered a human growth hormone test by the league Wednesday, Jan. 28, and he believes it was directed at him after he [ More ]

Austin CollieJan 29 03:33a

Free-agent WR Austin Collie (Patriots) signed a contract with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League on Wednesday, Jan. 28.

Tom BradyJan 28 12:33p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady (illness) admitted that he is currently battling a cold, but he said he expects to be 100% ready for the Super Bowl Sunday, [ More ]

Brandon MebaneJan 27 11:23p

Seattle Seahawks DL Brandon Mebane (hamstring) said Tuesday, Jan. 27, that his hamstring surgery went well and he should be full go for the team's offseason program in April.

Richard ShermanJan 27 11:23p

Seattle Seahawks CB Richard Sherman (elbow) has torn ligaments in his elbow, but he is improving daily and he is no longer receiving treatment for the injury.

LeGarrette BlountJan 27 08:33p

New England Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount should be a factor in Super Bowl XLIX against the Seattle Seahawks Sunday, Feb. 1, in the opinion of Boston Herald writer Karen [ More ]

Adrian PetersonJan 27 07:43p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson was directed by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to meet with a league-assigned psychiatrist following Peterson's suspension. The National Football League Players Association is now [ More ]

Rob GronkowskiJan 27 12:23p

New England Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski is an offensive weapon that the Seattle Seahawks are focused on shutting down during the Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 1. Seahawks head coach [ More ]

Trent RichardsonJan 27 10:43a

Indianapolis Colts RB Trent Richardson's one-game suspension for conduct detrimental to the team voided the guarantee of a $3,184,062 salary in 2015.

Josh GordonJan 26 02:13p

Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon is in Stage Three of an alcohol program, which requires him to be tested for alcohol for a minimum of two years. His failed [ More ]

Rob GronkowskiJan 26 02:03p

New England Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski could cause a problem for the Seattle Seahawks during Super Bowl XLIX, because the Seahawks defense allowed 11 touchdowns to tight ends this [ More ]

Earl ThomasJan 26 02:03p

Seattle Seahawks FS Earl Thomas (shoulder) said he won't miss the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots with a dislocated shoulder, but he also admitted that it won't [ More ]

Odell Beckham Jr.Jan 26 01:52p

New York Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring) said he'll need to shut himself down this offseason in order to enter 2015 fully healthy and in great shape. He [ More ]

Josh GordonJan 26 12:33p

Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon tested positive for alcohol, according to sources, and his failed test will subject him to a possible one-year suspension. Gordon caught 24 passes for [ More ]

Vontaze BurfictJan 26 12:23p

Cincinnati Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict (knee) is recovering from microfracture surgery on his left knee, and the surgeon who operated on him is hoping that he will be at [ More ]

Odell Beckham Jr.Jan 26 11:22a

New York Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring) said he played this season with two tears in his right hamstring, which never fully healed.

Josh GordonJan 25 09:12p

Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon will be under contract through the 2016 season, and he will only be a restricted free agent after that year due to his looming [ More ]

Josh GordonJan 25 04:12p

Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon has reportedly failed another drug test and will be subject to a one-year banishment, according to multiple league sources.

Earl ThomasJan 23 09:02p

Seattle Seahawks FS Earl Thomas (shoulder) will play in the Super Bowl, head coach Pete Carroll said Friday, Jan. 23.

Dennis PittaJan 23 04:22p

Baltimore Ravens TE Dennis Pitta (hip) met with some specialists last week, but the team is not expected to have an update on his status for a few weeks, [ More ]

Johnny ManzielJan 23 01:12p

Cleveland Browns QB Johnny Manziel had a big proponent last year in owner Jimmy Haslam, but Haslam now thinks the team needs a quarterback in order to get their [ More ]

Jimmy GrahamJan 23 10:32a

New Orleans Saints TE Jimmy Graham (shoulder) said he'll rehabilitate his shoulder injury after the Pro Bowl, but he hasn't made a final decision on surgery. 'It's something we [ More ]

Mark IngramJan 22 06:42p

New Orleans Saints RB Mark Ingram, who will be eligible for free agency this offseason, wants to return to the team next year, and he thinks the interest is [ More ]

Vernon DavisJan 22 06:22p

San Francisco 49ers TE Vernon Davis had just two touchdowns in 2014, and they both came in Week 1. He also wasn't targeted at all in the red zone [ More ]

Geno SmithJan 22 05:32p

New York Jets QB Geno Smith has a lot of talent and promise, according to new head coach Todd Bowles. At the same time, Bowles acknowledged that the quarterback [ More ]

Brian HoyerJan 22 04:52p

Cleveland Browns QB Brian Hoyer could be re-signed this offseason, according to his agent. Hoyer is expected to meet with general manager Ray Farmer and offensive coordinator John DeFilippo in the near future.

Johnny ManzielJan 22 02:43p

Cleveland Browns QB Johnny Manziel will be working with a new offensive coordinator this year in John DeFilippo, but DeFilippo is unsure if the team's quarterback next year is [ More ]

Joe FlaccoJan 22 12:52p

Baltimore Ravens QB Joe Flacco will have his fourth difference offensive coordinator in as many years in offensive coordinator Marc Trestman. However, head coach John Harbaugh is confident Flacco [ More ]

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group