Plotting the 2014 Saints Starters

What do you mean, football?  Soccer?  Pfft, come on!  How could I enjoy soccer when I have your offseason to enjoy?  You know that you’re all I need…you know that right?  You’re special to me!  To everyone!

The summer of soccer is over.  –Certain not to repeat at least until the Summer Olympics in 2016 and then again with the World Cup in 2018.  Hopefully our nation will both a) get better at playing international-level soccer and b) still not address soccer nationally on a regular basis until events like the World Cup come around.

On to football, our proverbial “sugar momma” of sports.

Image
I think The Greenbrier is off in the distance…

We are currently two weeks away from training camp.  The Saints are set to report to West Virginia (WV?!?).  Yes, West Virginia: that cushy, posh and care-free part of the world known as Coal Mining Country.

The Saints will open camp on July 25 with the first practices slated for the 26th and will stay there for two weeks (thru 2 preseason games) and return to the Metairie Practice Facility to open practices on August 17th.

THE ROSTER

Even more so than last year, the starting lineup is all but set and the remaining openings are left for role positions, depth and special teamers.

At QB, the main question remains: who will make the starting roster to backup Drew? Luke McCown, an 11 year vet, is a likely candidate.  Though, it is a remote possibility that Tulane standout Ryan Griffin could make a case for the most coveted spot in pro football: clipboard holder for Drew Brees.

At RB, it seems evident that, unless he regresses, Mark Ingram will gain carries as the lead workhorse.  The Saints RB situation is still untouchable in fantasy respects as Ingram’s carries will be highly diluted by the mere presence of backs Pierre Thomas and Khiry Robinson.  It’s also likely that Travaris Cadet could make the final 53 man roster depending on how the return specialist competition works out betwixt he and rookie WR Brandin Cooks.

At WR, Marques Colston and Kenny Stills likely command the first two “built-in-concrete” roster spots.  After that, Nick Toon and the aforementioned Cooks likely have roster spots locked up.  If the Saints choose to keep seven WRs on the final roster then it’s likely that Robert Meachem, Andy Tanner and Joe Morgan have the edge on the three remaining spots.  Their competition will be chiefly provided by undrafted rookie free agent Brandon Coleman.

ImageAt TE, the aptly positioned Jimmy Graham will be (hopefully) happily manning the controls while he will be spelled by the much admired family man, Ben Watson.

The offensive line should never be situated any other way than this: Armstrong, Grubbs, Lelito/Goodwin, Evans and Strief.  Other than Tavon Rooks’ development in the preseason and the competition between the inexperienced Lelito and the way too experienced (see: Old) Goodwin, there’s probably not much to see here.

On the Defensive side of the ball, Cam Jordan, Akiem Hicks and Brodrick Bunkley will get the lion’s share of the starting nods at the front 3 of the 3-4 defense.  Also in regular rotation up front should be Glenn Foster, Tyrunn Walker and John Jenkins–the last of which may make a push for Bunkley’s starting nose tackle spot.

In a perfect world, our starting four at linebacker would be Victor Butler at the Sam, Curtis Lofton and David Hawthorne on the Mikes, and Junior Galette at the Will.  Keyunta Dawson and Parys Haralson will smartly backup the OLB positions while rookie Khairi Fortt will push Kevin Reddick for one of the backup MLB spots and Ramon Humber will likely take up the other.  Reddick could fill in as a special teamer, though he also received a large number of snaps last year on the defense.

The secondary is going to be tons of fun this year.  I can totally say that with nearly no sarcasm this year, ain’t it great?!?  Keenan Lewis and Patrick Robinson will likely head up the top corner positions with much more certainty placed on Lewis than PRob.  Robinson will likely have to beat out both a crafty veteran, in Champ Bailey, and a talented rookie, in Stanley Jean-Baptiste–who has as many skills as he does names.  Robinson winning the starting job is by no means a likelihood or even a probability, but, with his experience starting the last two years in spot duty as well as winning the job out of training camp last year, it occurs to me that more and more people should be less and less surprised by his number being called in early September.  The safety positions should give the defense it’s most comfortable warm and fuzzies.  At strong safety, the young, hard-hitting Kenny Vaccaro should return in great shape to be the unquestioned starter.  While at free safety, incoming veteran Jairus Byrd could be the best safety the Saints have had since Roman Harper, Malcolm Jenkins, Darren Sharper, Josh Bullocks, Tebucky Jones, Jay Bellamy, Sammy Knight, Gene Atkins, Dave Waymer, and Tom Myers.  Rookie Vinnie Sunseri should also make the squad and be a decent addition to the depth of the bench.

Perhaps the biggest question mark (while also being the least appealing question mark) on the team will be: who’s kicking field goals/extra points for the team?  And, unless Derek Dimke–the most accurate kicker ever at the University of Illinois–can blow the coaches…away, blow the coaches away…..with his kicking, blow the coaches away with his kicking prowess, then it’s highly likely that Shayne Graham–who is both 36 years old and also holds the following kicking resume, via Wikipedia, will get the job.

I mean, he started the millenium with…wait for it….the RICHMOND SPEED!!!  Never heard of the Speed?  That’s probably due to two reasons: 1) because the team itself folded in 2003 and 2) the entire Arena Football League 2 (that’s right, not even the regular arena football league, this was the SEQUEL!!!) folded in 2009.  Anywho, it will be interesting to at least me who the Saints settle with at the kicker spot.  Not that the Saints are ever tied long-term to a kicker (See: 2013 Garrett Hartley) but still, it’s kind of an important spot–wouldn’t you agree Scott Norwood??

 

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