While everyone is so focused on the Brees contract and the latest on the Bounty suspensions, I'm going to take advantage and talk about some players' chances of making the roster.
I'm reading between the lines on some of these guys but I'm going with it anyway. Check it out after the jump to see what names were dropped in some recent press conferences and what that could mean for the Saints defense in 2012.
I think we are all hoping the defense will be much improved under defensive coordinator Spagnuolo and I believe it will be. You guys already know about the Martez Wilson move to DE and I'd expect him to be in full competition with the other guys like Turk McBride and Junior Galette; but on the other end of the line, it looks like Cameron Jordan may be the starter. Jordan was mentioned in Vitt's Press Conference after the OTAs last week, and it sounds promising.
Vitt mentions the "sophomore jinx" that has struck many NFL players. Anyway, here's what Vitt had to say about Jordan:
He came in last year with a tremendous amount of athleticism and want to and sometimes you can get a little bit of a sophomore jinx. He hasn’t shown any of that. He’s wide-eyed, this is a new system for him so he has to pay attention. I think the new system fits him perfectly. I think we’ll see a little more of his pass rush skills this year. We’ve been happy with him, really happy.
The Saints interior line, of course, has Broderick Bunkley now and everyone seems high on his ability so I won't discuss him here because I'm limited on space. The front office also brought Remi Ayodele back and Will Smith has been seen in the DT position, which I think will suit him better and give the young DEs they have a chance to shine.
The LB corps is stacked, to say the least, and I think we can see that everywhere online but here's a nice quote about the FAs the team brought in. It even mentions Shanle and Herring:
Curtis Lofton, again, I think what I said about him last week. He continues to get better and is mastering the system. He has great communication skills. As you watch him practice, he is calling audibles and getting (the team) in better defenses every day as he is getting used to the defense. I think David Hawthorne is a pleasant surprise to me. We knew his athleticism. We knew he was a thumper. His ability to think and make adjustments and know the game of football has really been a pleasant surprise. He works hard every day.Chris Chamberlain was in the system. He knows this system, is a system-oriented linebacker and has mastered this system. He has been a good voice in the room to really help those other guys out. Those guys have been great acquisitions. Now, (Scott) Shanle is having a heck of a camp. Will Herring, this is his second year. He didn’t go through OTA’s last year, he just went to training camp. He is much more rehearsed in the defense this year than he was last year. There is some good competition. There are some good linebackers there.
In the secondary, the veteran cornerbacks have performed well this offseason according to Vitt so I think we have the starters picked out. Here's Vitt's impression:
Johnny Patrick has played well all offseason. I think this, and this is my personal opinion, for somebody in the secondary, I think you make your biggest leap from year one to year two if you are going to be a player in this league. We saw with (Patrick) Robinson from a rookie year to his sophomore year, the jump that he made. I think Johnny Patrick is showing us that he is capable of making that jump. This game has become like basketball on grass where you have to sub personnel on first and second down. If you don’t have that third corner than you are in real trouble.
So does that mean we've found our third corner in Elbert Mack? Maybe, since he got signed, but wait a minute...Corey White seems to be making a splash, too! He was also mentioned, which is good because it means he's been walking the walk and not just talking the talk:
Corey White has been great. Again, he’s got balance, twitch, fluid hips and second gear but for a corner he’s got power too.
I didn't mention it before but did anyone else catch that "for a corner" tidbit? Yeah, well I think it's safe to say what rotation he'll probably be on. Plus the Saints have a good number of safeties competing for a roster spot anyway.
Every one remembers Jonathon Amaya and Issa Abdul-Quddus from last year, and they still have Harper and Jenkins as veterans. There seem to be three UDFAs competing for a safety position this year with Jerico Nelson, Johnny Thomas and Jose Gumbs. I picked Nelson as a possible draft choice this year, but I'm glad to see him get picked up after the draft instead. Greg McMahon (Special Teams Coordinator) says they may have to start out on ST to make the roster.
Here's the Q & A part on the battle for safety:
There’s a history of defensive backs making the roster, especially on special teams. Can you talk about the undrafted safeties on the roster such as Jerico Nelson and Johnny Thomas?
And Jose Gumbs. Those three undrafted rookies they definitely fit in. You can tell after a couple weeks of work, those guys fit in. So we tell our guys hey here’s (Isa) Abdul-Quddus. . .So it’s the culture that we have, they understand that and they now that we’re only going to keep four maybe five safeties so they’ve got to find a way to make the roster.
Not that it means anything, but McMahon made sure to bring Gumbs into the mix so he must have caught the coach's eye. As a matter of fact, I think I remember Vitt doing the same thing in another press conference but I could be mistaken.
Again, I'm reading between the lines but sometimes you have to do that in life and in football. I'll try to have another name dropping story by next week that talks about the offense and what's going on there.