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

D.J. WilliamsAug 22 05:12p

Free-agent DT Anthony McCloud (Cardinals), WR Jabin Sambrano (Falcons), DT Marcus Forston (Patriots), TE D.J. Williams (Patriots) and DE James Ruffin (Buccaneers) all cleared waivers Friday, Aug. 22.

Damien WilliamsAug 22 04:58p

Miami Dolphins RB Damien Williams has leapfrogged RBs Daniel Thomas and Mike Gillislee on the depth chart.

Jalil BrownAug 22 03:22p

The Miami Dolphins released CB Jalil Brown Friday, Aug. 22.

Michael EgnewAug 22 03:02p

The Miami Dolphins waived TE Michael Egnew Friday, Aug. 22.

Emmanuel SandersAug 22 11:22a

Denver Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders (quadriceps) had a full practice Thursday, Aug. 21, and he could play in his first preseason game Saturday, Aug. 23.

Isaac RedmanAug 22 10:52a

Free-agent RB Isaac Redman (back) said he is no longer able to play football after suffering a spinal cord injury in 2013.

Christian PonderAug 22 10:42a

Minnesota Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater is entrenched as the No. 2 quarterback, and the team is confident with him there. QB Christian Ponder could be traded if he performs [ More ]

Brandon BostickAug 22 08:22a

Updating a previous report, Green Bay Packers TE Brandon Bostick (leg) has a slight fracture of his fibula and could return by Week 2 or Week 3.

Sean SpenceAug 22 01:02a

Pittsburgh Steelers LB Sean Spence (knee) and Jason Worilds (knee) are not expected to have suffered serious knee injuries during the team's preseason game Thursday, Aug. 21, according to sources.

Doug MartinAug 22 12:52a

Tampa Bay Buccaners RB Doug Martin was called the team's 'bell cow' running back by head coach Lovie Smith.

Heath MillerAug 22 12:42a

Pittsburgh Steelers TE Heath Miller had a team-high five catches for 53 yards, including a 27-yard touchdown reception, in the team's preseason game Thursday, Aug. 21.

Nick FolesAug 22 12:12a

Philadelphia Eagles QB Nick Foles completed 19 of 29 passes for 179 yards with one touchdown and one interception during the team's preseason game Thursday, Aug. 21. He led [ More ]

LeSean McCoyAug 21 11:42p

Philadelphia Eagles RB LeSean McCoy (thumb) said he expects to be ready for the regular season after spraining his right thumb during the team's preseason game Thursday, Aug. 21.

Sammy WatkinsAug 21 10:22p

Buffalo Bills WR Sammy Watkins (ribs) did not participate in team drills during practice Thursday, Aug. 21, and he has not been cleared to play in the team's preseason game Saturday, Aug. 23.

Max StarksAug 21 09:32p

Arizona Cardinals OT Max Starks (ankle), LB Kevin Minter (pectoral) and OG Jonathan Cooper (toe) did not practice Thursday, Aug. 21.

Brandin CooksAug 21 09:12p

New Orleans Saints WR Brandin Cooks (illness) returned to practice on a limited basis Thursday, Aug. 21, and he is questionable for the team's preseason game Saturday, Aug. 23, [ More ]

Victor ButlerAug 21 09:12p

New Orleans Saints CB Rod Sweeting (undisclosed) and LB Victor Butler (undisclosed) did conditioning work on the side with trainers during practice Thursday, Aug. 21.

LeSean McCoyAug 21 09:02p

Philadelphia Eagles RB LeSean McCoy's (thumb) X-rays on his right thumb came back negative, but he will not return to the team's preseason game Thursday, Aug. 21.

Jeremy MaclinAug 21 08:52p

Philadelphia Eagles WR Jeremy Maclin (knee) walked off the field under his own power after falling and clutching his right knee during the team's preseason game Thursday, Aug. 21.

LeSean McCoyAug 21 08:32p

Philadelphia Eagles RB LeSean McCoy (thumb) left the team's preseason game Thursday, Aug. 21, and went to the locker room for X-rays on his right thumb.

Le'Veon BellAug 21 07:52p

Pittsburgh Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell started against the Philadelphia Eagles Thursday night as he waits for a possible suspension after being charged for driving under the influence and marijuana possession.

Kenny BrittAug 21 07:32p

St. Louis Rams WR Kenny Britt (shoulder) may sit out of the team's preseason game against the Cleveland Browns Saturday, Aug. 23, with a shoulder injury. Britt did practice this week, however.

William HayesAug 21 07:32p

St. Louis Rams WR Jordan Harris (undisclosed), LB Pat Schiller (undisclosed), DE Sammy Brown (calf), DT Matt Conrath (undisclosed), DE William Hayes (undisclosed) OG Barrett Jones (back) and C [ More ]

J. VanderveldeAug 21 06:22p

Philadelphia Eagles WR Josh Huff (shoulder), RB Chris Polk (hamstring), WR Brad Smith (undisclosed), CB Brandon Boykin (leg), LB Jake Knott (hamstring) and C Julian Vandervelde (back) are not [ More ]

Reggie WayneAug 21 05:32p

Indianapolis Colts WR Reggie Wayne (knee) is a game-time decision against the New Orleans Saints Saturday, Aug. 23, according to head coach Chuck Pagano.

Darnell DockettAug 21 05:12p

Arizona Cardinals DT Darnell Dockett (knee) was placed on Reserve/Injured Thursday, Aug. 21.

Fendi OnobunAug 21 05:12p

Jacksonville Jaguars TE Fendi Onobun (knee) has cleared waivers and was placed on Reserve/Injured Thursday, Aug. 2.

Mike CaussinAug 21 05:12p

Washington Redskins TE Mike Caussin (undisclosed) was placed on Reserve/Injured Thursday, Aug. 21.

Isaiah PeadAug 21 05:12p

St. Louis Rams RB Isaiah Pead (knee) has cleared waivers and was placed on Reserve/Injured Thursday, Aug. 2.

Joe MaysAug 21 04:42p

Kansas City Chiefs LB Joe Mays (wrist) will have surgery on his wrist, according to a source. Mays was hurt in last week's preseason game against the Carolina Panthers. [ More ]

Eric WeemsAug 21 04:02p

The Atlanta Falcons signed free-agent WR Eric Weems (Bears) Thursday, Aug. 21. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Manti Te'oAug 21 03:42p

San Diego Chargers OG Jeromey Clary (shoulder, hip), WR Vincent Brown (calf), LB Manti Te'o (foot), DT Sean Lissemore (ankle), SS Jahleel Addae (hamstring), DE Lawrence Guy (shoulder) and [ 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