Saints News: 6.22.08

Today's news has a couple of division breakdowns, namely, the NFC South and some rumors of a big merge. Oooooh, I wonder what thats about? See you after the jump!

KFFL finally did their division preview for the NFC South. Here is what they said about the Saints. Check out the whole preview for the other teams.

New Orleans Saints

2007 Record: 7-9

Offseason changes

Key Additions
Pos
Acquire via Key Losses
Pos
Status
Sedrick Ellis
DL
Draft Jeff Faine
C
UFA
Randall Gay
DB
Signing Brian Simmons
LB
Released
Jonathan Vilma
LB
Trade Olindo Mare
PK
Released
Aaron Glenn
DB
Signing
--
--
--
Taylor Mehlhaff
PK
Draft
--
--
--
Bobby McCray
DE
Signing
--
--
--
Mark Brunell
QB
Signing
--
--
--


Worth keeping an eye on

Positional battles

Receiver Marques Colston is set at one starting spot, but the rest of the spots should be in play between wideouts David Patten, Robert Meachem, Lance Moore, Terrence Copper and Devery Henderson.

Veteran linebacker Mark Simoneau could be in the mix for a starting spot if linebackers Scott Fujita or Scott Shanle struggle.

Place kickers Martin Gramatica and Taylor Mehlhaff are both competing to be the team's kicker.

Fading fast

Wideout Devery Henderson caught 32 passes for 745 yards in 2006 and looked primed to break out in 2007. However, Henderson caught just 20 passes last year for 409 yards with only eight in the last eight games. He could be fighting for a roster spot this summer.

Coming on strong

Receiver Marques Colston was great as a rookie and even better during his sophomore season. Frighteningly for defenses, the best may be yet to come from the 6-foot-4 pass catcher. He accounted for 54 receptions, 695 yards with six touchdowns in last season's second half and is a rising star.

On the rebound

Linebacker Jonathan Vilma (knee) was acquired this offseason after playing seven games for the New York Jets last year. He underwent knee surgery last November and is walking without a limp, but he isn't 100 percent. He could benefit from returning to a 4-3 system that favors his sideline-to-sideline ability.

Running back Deuce McAllister (knees) underwent surgery on both knees last year, including microfracture surgery on his right knee. His season ended after just three games. He is on schedule to return by training camp, but the team is going to be mindful of his knees.

Injury prone

Tight end Eric Johnson (ankle) has already missed some practices this offseason with an ankle injury. Since missing the entire 2005 season with a foot injury, Johnson has missed five games combined the last two seasons as he has battled knee and groin injuries.

Offensive/defensive scheme changes

None

The one thing I noticed was that the Saints had way more key additions than key losses. The key addition/key loss +/- for us was +4. TB was +1, Atlanta was +2 And Carolina was actually -2, yet they will win the division. Not sure that necessarily really means anything whatsoever.

Here is NFL Live's analysis of the NFC South. Take it for what it's worth. For those of you who are incredibly impatient, you can jump to 1:50 remaining for the Saints.

 

It seems like the Saints were the only team they weren't too critical of.

Speaking of ESPN, the Wall Street Journal reports of a possible merge between NFL Network and ESPN. Without subscribing to WSJ, we only get the first two paragraphs of the article, but the first one says it all.

Seeking to end an embarrassing dispute that kept live pro football games out of many homes, the National Football League's NFL Network is in talks to form a partnership with Walt Disney Co.'s ESPN cable sports network, according to people familiar with the situation.

Reuters UK also covered the story and explains in more detail what this merge might mean.

The 5-year-old NFL Network, held by National Football League owners, has had trouble reaching its subscriber targets because of disputes with U.S. cable operators.

The football network, which has about 40 million subscribers, has accused the cable operators, including Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O: Quote, Profile, Research) and Time Warner Cable Inc (TWC.N: Quote, Profile, Research), of unfairly giving affiliated channels better placement and financial terms.

A deal with ESPN, which is offered on basic cable, would give the NFL Network an end-run around the cable operators, which refused to carry it after it withheld eight games from its 2006 TV licensing package to run on its own channel.

Tom Benson and George Shinn should be happy as they will definitely be getting payed. The states nearly $29.9 billion yearly budget was passed yesterday. Buried deep inside all of that money is the cash necessary to fulfill its contractual obligations for our two favorite sports teams.

-- An additional $358 million spending plan for the current budget year ending June 30, with funding slated for the LSU-run public hospitals; new professorships at universities; economic development programs; legal judgments against the state; and the state's contractual obligations to the New Orleans Saints and Hornets. It also includes millions for lawmakers' pet projects.

Sweet.

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