fbpx
        Home


Jul

31

SAINTS TRAINING CAMP: CAMP OUTLOOK

By Gus Kattengell / @gkatt_17

The 2018 NFL football season is here, well at least the part of the season where teams try and figure out the right 53 man roster they feel will lead them to a successful season.

An 11-5 season a year ago has the Saints fans amped up for the new season and as always there are a number of storylines as camp begins. These are my 5 top storylines for me heading into the upcoming season and refreshingly for once it mainly has to do with non-football specific issues.

EXPECTATIONS

At the top of the list is Expectations. The fact the team was a game, or really a play away from playing for another shot to be in a Super Bowl has raised the expectation level for the team. Fans are as excited about the upcoming season as they have ever been arguably in franchise history. On my radio show for the past several weeks, I have asked listeners if the Minnesota loss was on their minds or if it hurt like the San Francisco loss did back in 2011. I believe the answer is overwhelmingly no. Don’t get me wrong, that Vikings game, play, isn’t one anyone wants to watch but I feel that a “the best is yet to come from this team” mindset lives among many Who Dats.

2017 was a pleasant surprise. Sure there was hope the draft class would help but who had the Saints drafting the offensive and defensive rookies of the year? Not many had the team drafting a tackle of the future that started every game much less starting the season on the left side and finishing on the right side. Add a starting safety and linebacker, to go with second year receiver in Michael Thomas who had back to back thousand yard seasons and the team quickly built a foundation of young talented players that made the post Drew Brees era seem doable.

Entering training camp the Saints roster is talented. It’s as deep as it’s ever been and local observers join national analysts that this is at the very least a playoff team with some believing they are Super Bowl contenders.

A slight difference from two seasons ago where the expectation levels were can this team even win six games? The Saints have five primetime games this season and that doesn’t happen if people think you’ll suck.

THE NFC IS LOADED

My second storyline is that the Saints could have a Super Bowl contending team despite only winning 10 or 11 games. The NFC is loaded. 2018 sees the Saints play the NFC East, and the AFC North and both of those divisions have challenging opponents. Also the Saints will get another go at the L.A. Rams as they come to the Dome but once again will have to travel to Minnesota. The Vikings and Rams are also picked to have solid teams and are considered by many as contending teams to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.

2017 saw three teams come out of the Saints NFC South division and there is no reason to believe that Atlanta and Carolina will not be as competitive as they were a season ago. The NFC North were the Vikings call home also have a Packers team many nationally like to contend and Detroit has a chance to be a playoff team. Oh yea and what about Philadelphia? Incredibly they were underdogs in every post-season game they played in last season mainly and understandably due to starting quarterback Carson Wentz not playing. They still were the top seed and if he isn’t hurt he is the league MVP winner. So yea the NFC is loaded. I’ve referred to it over the past few weeks as the NBA’s Western Conference.

HOW HUNGRY WILL THE INJURY BUG BE

This goes without saying that that damn injury bug better have died due to obesity. 2017 saw a ridiculous 20 plus players get placed on season ending injured reserve with many being starters. The defense lost several key players and there is no question that after Alex Okafor and A.J. Klein were lost the defense slipped a bit. The Saints approach this offseason through free agency and the draft was to solidify the ability to withstand injuries. It’s going to happen. Players will get hurt. I commend the “next man up mentality” but for many teams those players are backups and not starters stuck behind talent. The Saints I believe have helped that cause in the competition exists a several position groups where the backups were starters last season or can start on other NFL teams.

WHO REPLACES MARK INGRAM

Mark Ingram’s four game suspension initially may have you, like many, thinking “who replaces Ingram”? I have a different take in that yes it’ll be interesting to see who gets the reps in his place but I don’t feel the team will look to “replace” him per say. There are a number of candidates to get carries as the team has Trey Edmonds and Jonathan Williams from a year ago. They drafted Boston Scott, signed Terrance West and Shane Vareen this summer. West and Vareen have veteran status that would be good if Kamara can’t go but I truly feel that it’s a battle to see who spells Kamara.

The Saints brought in three new pass catching weapons this offseason in receivers Cameron Meredith and Tre’Quan Smith and tight end Ben Watson. I have a hard time believing that Sean Payton will look to have those backs carry or catch the ball 15-20 times. The calling card of the Saints has been through the air and as long as a hall of fame quarterback is around they’re going to pass the football. I’m not saying they won’t run it or won’t need to run it and can’t run it but I don’t think who ever the backs are that they’ll be key roles in the game plan.

Gus is the host of the Sports Hangover and can be heard weekdays on 100.3 FM ESPN New Orleans Monday through Friday 12 to 3pm.

Leave a Reply


Pages


Archives