Just this morning, Dave talked about his excitement to see how the backs not named Pierre Thomas & Reggie Bush perform this preseason. "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." Well, now it seems Hamilton has torn his ACL and will be lost for the season. While this has not been confirmed by the team yet, ESPN analyst Adam Schefer has reported he's lost for the season, and Fletcher Mackel's training camp twitter page has confirmed the injury is very serious. I guess the Saints are regretting their decision not to match the offer sheet Mike Bell signed with the Philadelphia Eagles right about now.
You'll remember last week that I talked about the opportunity that lies ahead for P.J. Hill and Chris Ivory to make this team. Well, that opportunity is even more pronounced now. One of them, if not both, will have to step up and show they can be a reliable #3 back on this team. We all know based on last year, the #3 back will see a lot of playing time. The team will sign a veteran back now, this much is a given. We already knew they were likely going to do that based on the people they were bringing in for tryouts, but with Hamilton now lost indefinitely there is zero question that will happen. That said, you have to figure being in camp for a couple weeks is a huge advantage for the Saints' two young tailbacks over any available over the hill veteran that the Saints sign. I always felt very strongly that the Saints made a mistake letting Mike Bell go for no compensation. I also felt the Saints made a mistake not drafting a running back in the draft. I know they feel good about their ability to pick up undrafted backs, and certainly this is no slight against Hill or Ivory who both seem promising, but wouldn't you rather have some back that was drafted in the 7th round over say, Sean Canfield, right about now? The bottom line is the Saints didn't do enough in the offseason to protect themselves from something like this happening, and now they are going to have to count on P.J. Hill and/or Chris Ivory playing a prominent role in this year's offense. Either that, or the reps will increase for Thomas and Bush which will in turn increase their risk for injury. We saw the injuries mount for our backs last year as Hamilton, Bush, Thomas and Bell all were hurt at different points in the season. Quoting Payton, "you can never have enough good players at that position". Well, as far as I'm concerned he stated his case for why the Saints should have kept Mike Bell right there. I can't remember the exact numbers, but I believe the Saints lost Bell at no compensation for under $1 million. The Eagles signed him to a one year tender for just a bit more than the Saints offer. The Saints are kicking themselves now for that decision.
Now it remains to be seen who the Saints will pick up, and how much he can contribute. Ultimately, as I've already mentioned here, you have to think P.J. Hill and Chris Ivory have the leg up on any other player that comes in. I just hope Reggie and Pierre can stay healthy all season because they just got much thinner behind them.
Do you think the Saints made a mistake letting Mike Bell go?