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

Drew StantonDec 17 07:33p

Arizona Cardinals QB Drew Stanton (knee) said this injury is different from any other he's ever had, and he said it's too soon to know if he could return [ More ]

Carlos HydeDec 17 07:03p

San Francisco 49ers RBs Frank Gore (concussion) and Carlos Hyde (ankle) did not take part in practice Wednesday, Dec. 17.

Jay CutlerDec 17 06:43p

Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler will be benched in favor of QB Jimmy Clausen in Week 16 against the Detroit Lions, according to a source.

Jimmy ClausenDec 17 06:43p

Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler will be benched in favor of QB Jimmy Clausen in Week 16 against the Detroit Lions, according to a source.

Philip RiversDec 17 06:13p

San Diego Chargers QB Philip Rivers (chest, back) took part in a walkthrough Wednesday, Dec. 17, but didn't take part in practice, but he fully expects to play in [ More ]

Carlos HydeDec 17 05:43p

San Francisco 49ers RB Carlos Hyde (knee, back) received good news from his MRI results, but he said it would take a miracle for him to play in Week [ More ]

Robbie GouldDec 17 04:53p

Chicago Bears PK Robbie Gould (quadriceps) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Dec. 17.

Cam NewtonDec 17 04:13p

Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton (back) was listed as a limited participant in practice Wednesday, Dec. 17.

Frank GoreDec 17 03:13p

San Francisco 49ers RB Frank Gore (concussion) visited with a doctor at the team's facility Tuesday, Dec. 16, as part of the NFL's concussion protocol. Gore did not participate [ More ]

Ryan MathewsDec 17 02:33p

San Diego Chargers RB Ryan Mathews (ankle) is not participating in practice Wednesday, Dec. 17.

C.J. SpillerDec 17 02:13p

Buffalo Bills RB C.J. Spiller (shoulder) was limited during practice Wednesday, Dec. 17.

Blake BortlesDec 17 01:53p

Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles (foot) was limited during practice Wednesday, Dec. 17, and is listed as questionable for Week 16.

Julio JonesDec 17 01:43p

Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones (hip) is not participating in the portion of practice open to the media Wednesday, Dec. 17.

DeMarco MurrayDec 17 01:33p

Updating a previous report, Dallas Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray (hand) wasn't expected to do a lot at practice Wednesday, Dec. 17, but he took first-team snaps at running back [ More ]

Cam NewtonDec 17 01:23p

Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton (back) returned to practice Wednesday, Dec. 17, and he worked with the second-team offense in the portion of practice open to the media. QB [ More ]

DeMarco MurrayDec 17 12:43p

Dallas Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray (hand) is participating in individual drills during practice Wednesday, Dec. 17.

T Y HiltonDec 17 12:23p

Indianapolis Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (hamstring) is not participating during the media-access portion of practice Wednesday, Dec. 17.

Rashad JenningsDec 17 11:23a

New York Giants RB Rashad Jennings (ankle) will not participate in practice Wednesday, Dec. 17.

Keenan AllenDec 17 11:03a

San Diego Chargers WR Keenan Allen (collarbone, ankle) said he is taking his injuries 'week to week.'

Denard RobinsonDec 17 10:13a

Jacksonville Jaguars RB Denard Robinson (foot) has a partially torn ligament in his foot, according to head coach Gus Bradley. Recovery time is six to eight weeks, but he [ More ]

Marc TrestmanDec 16 09:33p

The Chicago Bears are expected to fire head coach Marc Trestman, according to a source. The team's ownership met Tuesday, Dec. 16, after the team's Week 15 loss against [ More ]

Julio JonesDec 16 09:33p

Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones (hip) is expected to be ready to play in Week 16 against the New Orleans Saints. However, offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter indicated the possibility [ More ]

Zach MettenbergerDec 16 06:43p

Tennessee Titans QB Zach Mettenberger (shoulder) missed practice for the second straight day Tuesday, Dec. 16.

DeMarco MurrayDec 16 05:53p

Dallas Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray (hand) will likely be a game-time decision against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 16, according to owner Jerry Jones. Jones said the team is [ More ]

Julius ThomasDec 16 05:33p

Denver Broncos TE Virgil Green continued to lead the team's tight ends in snaps with 50 in Week 15 against the San Diego Chargers, even with TE Julius Thomas [ More ]

Aaron RodgersDec 16 05:23p

Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is 0-2 with a 35.6 total quarterback rating at Tampa Bay in his career. He threw three interceptions in each of those games.

Blake BortlesDec 16 04:23p

Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles (foot) was jogging, throwing and moving around well while being limited at practice Thursday, Dec. 16. He showed no signs of being limited by [ More ]

Colt McCoyDec 16 04:23p

Updating a previous report, Washington Redskins QB Colt McCoy (neck) was told by doctors that he only needs two to three weeks for the aggravated nerve in his neck [ More ]

Keenan AllenDec 16 04:13p

Updating a previous report, San Diego Chargers WR Keenan Allen (collarbone) could be placed on Reserve/Injured if the team is eliminated from playoff contention. Allen will not play this [ More ]

Ryan MathewsDec 16 02:43p

San Diego Chargers RB Ryan Mathews (ankle) did not practice Tuesday, Dec. 16.

Colt McCoyDec 16 02:33p

Washington Redskins QB Colt McCoy (neck) was placed on season-ending Reserve/Injured Tuesday, Dec. 16, according to head coach Jay Gruden.

Keenan AllenDec 16 02:33p

San Diego Chargers WR Keenan Allen (collarbone) suffered a broken collarbone in Week 15 and is not expected to play this week. Surgery is not planned at this point [ 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