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

Perry RileyOct 23 05:49p

Washington Redskins LB Perry Riley (knee) will start as soon as he is healthy enough to do so, according to head coach Jay Gruden.

John SullivanOct 23 05:46p

Minnesota Vikings C John Sullivan (concussion) is still in the testing phase to be cleared for a concussion, but he has not been cleared to this point. Head coach [ More ]

Justin TuckOct 23 05:42p

Oakland Raiders TE David Ausberry (foot), CB Keith McGill (groin), DE LaMarr Woodley (bicep) and FS Usama Young (knee) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 23. OT Khalif Barnes (quadriceps), [ More ]

Brett KeiselOct 23 05:42p

Pittsburgh Steelers OT Marcus Gilbert (concussion), DE Brett Keisel (non-injury), DT Steve McLendon (shoulder) and SS Troy Polamalu (non-injury) didn't practice Thursday, Oct. 23. CB Ike Taylor (forearm) and [ More ]

Lance BriggsOct 23 05:42p

Chicago Bears DE Jared Allen (rest), S Danny McCray (knee) and WR Chris Williams (illness) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 23. LBs Lance Briggs (ribs), Jonathan Bostic (back), CB [ More ]

Quentin GrovesOct 23 05:42p

Tennessee Titans LB Quentin Groves (ankle) and CB Coty Sensabaugh (knee) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 23. DE Ropati Pitoitua (hand) and TE Taylor Thompson (knee) were limited.

Zach MettenbergerOct 23 05:34p

Tennessee Titans QB Zach Mettenberger has been named the starting quarterback for Week 8, according to head coach Ken Whisenhunt. QB Jake Locker will serve as the backup quarterback.

Sharrif FloydOct 23 05:32p

Minnesota Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph (hernia) and S Antone Exum (ankle) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 23. LB Gerald Hodges (hamstring), C John Sullivan (concussion), DT Sharrif Floyd (ankle), [ More ]

Nick MangoldOct 23 05:32p

New York Jets OT Oday Aboushi (shoulder), CB Phillip Adams (groin), OG Willie Colon (knee), LB David Harris (shoulder), LB Trevor Reilly (knee) and WR Greg Salas (wrist, ankle) [ More ]

Dashon GoldsonOct 23 05:22p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers LB Brandon Magee (knee) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 23. LB Jonathan Casillas (hamstring), OT Anthony Collins (knee), FS Dashon Goldson (ankle) and CB Keith Tandy [ More ]

Daryl SmithOct 23 05:22p

Baltimore Ravens DE Chris Canty (wrist) and LB Daryl Smith (non-injury) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 23. OT Eugene Monroe (knee) and OG Kelechi Osemele (knee) practiced in full.

Colt McCoyOct 23 05:22p

Washington Redskins QB Colt McCoy will start Week 8, according to head coach Jay Gruden.

Josh McCownOct 23 05:12p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Josh McCown (thumb) was limited in practice Thursday, Oct. 23.

Brandon ThompsonOct 23 04:52p

Cincinnati Bengals OT Andrew Whitworth (rest) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 23. OG Clint Boling (rest) and CB Leon Hall (back) were limited, while TE Kevin Brock (neck), LB [ More ]

A.J. GreenOct 23 04:52p

Cincinnati Bengals WR A.J. Green (toe) sat out of practice for the second straight day Thursday, Oct. 23.

Morgan BurnettOct 23 04:42p

Green Bay Packers S Morgan Burnett (calf) and CB Sam Shields (knee) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 23. DE Datone Jones (ankle) was limited.

James StarksOct 23 04:42p

Green Bay Packers RB James Starks (ankle) was limited in practice Thursday, Oct. 23, after not practicing Wednesday, Oct. 22.

Thomas DavisOct 23 04:33p

Carolina Panthers CB Bene Benwikere (ankle), LB Chase Blackburn (knee), WR Philly Brown (concussion), OG Nate Chandler (thigh), OG Amini Silatolu (calf), OG Trai Turner (knee) and RB Fozzy [ More ]

Jonathan GoodwinOct 23 04:32p

New Orleans Saints C Jonathan Goodwin (knee, ankle) and LB Kyle Knox (ankle) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 23. CB Keenan Lewis (knee, shoulder), LB Ramon Humber (ankle) and [ More ]

Pierre ThomasOct 23 04:22p

New Orleans RB Pierre Thomas (ribs, shoulder) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 23.

R. Griffin IIIOct 23 04:22p

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III (ankle) is unlikely to be ready to play Monday, Oct. 27, against the Dallas Cowboys, according to head coach Jay Gruden. Gruden said [ More ]

Mario WilliamsOct 23 04:22p

Buffalo Bills WR Marquise Goodwin (hamstring) and LB Ty Powell (ankle) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 23. WR Marcus Easley (knee) and FS Aaron Williams (neck) were [ More ]

Rashad JohnsonOct 23 04:12p

Arizona Cardinals S Rashad Johnson (knee) underwent an MRI exam on his patellar tendon Monday, Oct. 20, that came back negative. Head coach Bruce Arians said Johnson is dealing with some tendonitis.

Jack CrawfordOct 23 04:12p

Dallas Cowboys DE Jack Crawford (calf), OT Doug Free (foot) and S Jakar Hamilton (non-injury) all did not practice Thursday, Oct. 23. LB Bruce Carter (thigh) and DE Anthony [ More ]

Alan BallOct 23 04:02p

Jacksonville Jaguars CB Alan Ball (biceps) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 23, and is considered highly unlikely to play in Week 8, according to head coach Gus Bradley.

Toby GerhartOct 23 03:52p

Jacksonville Jaguars RB Denard Robinson will start at running back in Week 8 even if RB Toby Gerhart (foot) is active, according to head coach Gus Bradley. Gerhart will [ More ]

Trent RichardsonOct 23 03:32p

Indianapolis Colts RB Trent Richardson (hamstring) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 23.

John BoyettOct 23 03:32p

The Denver Broncos released FS John Boyett from their practice squad Thursday, Oct. 23.

Gosder CherilusOct 23 03:32p

Indianapolis Colts LB Erik Walden (rest) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 23. TE Jack Doyle (knee) was limited during practice, while CB Darius Butler (ankle), OT Gosder [ More ]

Brice ButlerOct 23 03:22p

Oakland Raiders WR Brice Butler could receive more playing time moving forward after making a big play in each of the last two weeks. Butler said he has not [ More ]

Vinston PainterOct 23 03:12p

Cleveland Browns OG Paul McQuistan and OT Vinston Painter are options to start at right guard in Week 8 if OG John Greco starts at center.

Darren SprolesOct 23 03:02p

Philadelphia Eagles RB Darren Sproles (knee) was limited in practice Thursday, Oct. 23.

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