Saints 2011 Training Camp: Random Thoughts

Here are just a few random musings I've put together from reading all of the updates to come out of Saints training camp thus far. Take them all for what they're worth: nothing. 

One thing I'm starting to seriously appreciate is the wonderful culture the Saints have created here and how it's used to their advantage. Gregg Williams, an NFL coach for 21 years, said yesterday that this was "the best locker room he's ever been a part of." It's becoming obvious that this culture fosters a serious sense of discipline, maturity and community, making current players want to stay and outside players want to come here to succeed. I haven't been a Saints fan as long as most but everything I've heard leads me to believe that his is completely different from the way things used to be for this organization. And that's quite refreshing. 

I kind of feel bad for Lynell Hamilton. Here is a guy who was so close to becoming a household name in New Orleans last year, only to blow out his knee. Chris Ivory wound up stepping up to the plate in his absence and now Hamilton is lost among the eight running backs the Saints have on the roster. Sometimes it's amazing how important timing is when it comes to the NFL. I always ask that fans keep in mind the human side of the sport we love so much. This is a job for these guys and, sometimes, bad luck plays a part. If Hamilton winds up not making the team, I hope he lands with another team who finds him valuable. What do you think will wind up happening with Lynell?

How is Mark Ingram going to be used in 2011? It's a serious question and the Times-Pic guys pondered it yesterday. While we would assume Ingram will be a workhorse back, racking up the yardage, I'm not so sure that's what will happen. Of course he's got those capabilities, but Sean Payton has never been the one to call a run-first offense and I'd be surprised to see him make such a turnaround. Let's face it, Drew Brees runs the show and he's Payton's golden boy. Maybe I'm crazy but I just don't see Payton breaking away from the Brees-centric offense he's run the last five years, and rightfully so. My guess is that Ingram gets his touches sprinkled in like everyone else. No 1,000 yard season for him this year. Which could be good. That way, Ingram stays fresh, doesn't take a beating and his career has the potential to last longer than just three short years. 

I'm starting to think August 4th is going to be an important date in the free agency process; maybe I'm late to the party with this. Veteran free agents that have signed with the team cannot participate in training camp practice until then. That means the Saints have had reason not to rush signing those players while filling their roster with undrafted free agents and camp bodies. Too many signed veterans now would mean not enough players to participate in these early training camp practices. But when August 4th hits, we could very well see the team drop a bunch of rookies in an effort to get veterans signed up and back on the practice field. Just a thought; things could still get spicier. 

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