August 1, 2010

First weekend of camp battles

Here's our breakdown of the first weekend of training camp.

Patrick Ramsey is expected to be a significant improvement over veteran Mark Brunell.  It will change the way the Saints would handle an end-of-season scenario where the team won't want to endanger Drew Brees.

At defensive end, Bobby McCray will play as part of the rotation, but we don't expect him to win the starting job.  The job to replace Charles Grant will go to a newcomer, Alex Brown or Jimmy Wilkerson will start. 

At strongside linebacker, Troy Evans, Jonathan Casillas, Clint Ingram, Jo-Lonn Dunbar are roughly interchangeable in terms of ability.  None can replace Scott Fujita's leadership or locker room presence.  Dunbar seems to be the meanest, but can he play savvy?

Ingram has the most experience as a starter in the NFL, Casillas is the fastest and fought hard to make the team as an undrafted rookie last year.  Evans is probably the longest shot to start, but he has most time with the Saints and is already a special teams ace.  Dunbar appears to be most hungry, we'd guess that he wins most starts.

At wide receiver, something to keep an eye on is Marques Colston and Robert Meachem's health.  Both had big years in 2009, especially Meachem who finally emerged.  Nobody is going to question the athletic ability of either player, both are outstanding.  But both are starting the year hampered by offseason injuries, which could become nagging injuries, which could become performance-limiting this season.  Both start training camp on the PUP list, hoping that these problems do not turn into lingering injuries.

Notes: Former Saints WR David Patten has retired, ending a comeback bid with the Patriots.  Patten, 35, last played for the Saints for two seasons in 2007-8, the last of his 12 years in the league... The Saints waived undrafted rookie LS Clint Gresham to make room for Patrick Robinson on the roster, and he was claimed by Seattle...

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