Our first chance to see the 2010 Saints begin the defense of their Super Bowl championship is almost upon us. Naturally, I'm more than just a little excited. But even though these games are meaningless and can get sloppy and boring, they're a great chance to examine individual players without all the pressure of winning the game. With 80 guys on the current roster, however, there will be a lot to look for. To help some of you out, below is a quick little breakdown of what I will be focusing on most in sixty minutes of action. Feel free to agree, disagree or share your own.
The Running Game - Lynell Hamilton, P.J. Hill and Chris Ivory
These games are incredibly important for the guys battling it out in the backfield. Lynell Hamilton probably has the most to lose this training camp. With expectations for him to be the next Mike Bell, I'm most excited about seeing what he will do tomorrow night. Because of all the media hype surrounding Hill and Ivory this first week of camp, though, I'm nearly equally excited to see if either of them can beat out Hamilton. First and foremost for all these players: don't put the ball on the ground
The Fill-ins - Troy Evans and Alex Brown
The Saints fortunately lost only two starters from last years championship team, LB Scott Fujita and DE Charles Grant. Former Chicago Bear Alex Brown was signed this off-season to help offset the loss of Grant and while Clint Ingram still remains on the PUP list, reports from training camp are that Troy Evans has been getting the most time with the first team. How the Saints deal with these two losses - particularly at linebacker - will be important to watch for the entirety of training camp.
The Rookies - Jimmy Graham, Patrick Robinson, Al Woods and Charles Brown
There is no doubt that third-round draft pick TE Jimmy Graham has stolen the show thus far during training camp so all eyes will expectedly be on him. But he's not the only draft pick with potential. Patrick Robinson has started to shine recently, batting down a Tom Brady pass just yesterday. Of course our good friend Al Woods will be putting on a Saints jersey for the first time in his life which makes me happy for him; hopefully he doesn't get too nervous out there. And while all of that is going on, second-round draft pick Charles Brown will hopefully be out to prove something after falling lower than expected in the draft. Brown is one of my sleepers who some believe has the potential to seriously push Jermon Bushrod at left tackle.
The Quarterbacks - Patrick Ramsey, Chase Daniel and Sean Canfield
Brees won't be getting too much playing time against the Patriots which means it's our chance to take a peek at the rest of the guys at the position. Reports from camp are that the drop-off is drastic. With three other QB's behind Drew the Saints may give snaps to only two of them this Thursday, giving each enough playing time to get comfortable and into a rhythm. I don't really have an opinion one way or another about who I want to see and which player I think will make the cut. I'm expecting a lot of mistakes and zero rhythm. Should be a blast.
The Breakouts? - Rod Harper, Adrian Arrington, Chip Vaughn and Stanley Arnoux
Notice the question mark above because I have no idea whether any of these guys will 'breakout', they're just likely candidates. Rod Harper lit it up last year at this time and I fully expect to see more. As for Arrington, this could very well be his last chance to make a name for himself after not being able to live up to the hype the past few years. Vaughn and Arnoux were both labeled steals in last years draft but both were also injured early last year; we never really got a chance to know them. Which one of these players, if any, will really stand out from the crowd this summer?