Most of the Who Dat Nation should feel good about the talent at these two positions. I think the biggest question is... how will this talent be used this season?
There are not really any camp battles to speak of when it comes to RB and TE. The top 4 RBs and top 2 TEs are basically locks in my opinion. This is more of a spot for you and I to discuss how things may change in 2013 for both positions.
The biggest news at either position may be the loss of Chris Ivory. When fans can be upset about trading a #4 RB on the roster for a 4th round pick, you know you have some horses at RB. Many fans loved the small sample size that Ivory fed us (at times myself included), but I look at the other 3 guys on the roster and can't help but to think that the loss of Ivory may be GOOD? for the running game.
Most NFL teams run with a 2 RB rotation, with a few like New England and Carolina, choosing to go with the 3 RB platoon. The Saints had 4 guys deserving of carries. Too much to split the carries between. With Ivory no longer of the backs of the RB platoon, the added opportunity for the other 3 guys could be just what this offense needs.
Mark Ingram: Many Saints fans are not sold on Ingram, but the loss of Ivory may benefit him the most. There's no denying that Payton wants to see Ingram be the top back on this depth chart, the guy who will get the most carries and opportunities to make this running game go. I felt like Ingram turned it up in the latter part of the 2012 season and expect for him to improve further in 2013. He has the all around skill set to do great things in this offense. This could be the year that he wins the naysayers over.
Darren Sproles: He'll continue to do what he does. I just hope with Payton back that he runs the ball out of the backfield a little more. With it less crowded back there, maybe that will happen, but I still love what we get out of him as a receiver. He's also a pretty decent blocker for his size.
Pierre Thomas: I still hope he touches the ball more. He does an excellent job with the screen and runs hard on the inside. Maybe the loss of Ivory will give PT an opportunity to be more involved.
Travaris Cadet: I hope he's all special teams and that he isn't needed on offense at all.
Shawne Alston: Basically no chance to make this roster, unless Cadet falls off in preseason. Alston has nice size, but I'm looking at practice squad for him.
Jimmy Graham and Ben Watson have the top 2 TE positions locked down. I think we'll see plenty of Watson on the field. I can see formations where Graham will line up as a 3rd WR with an upgrade in Watson (over Thomas) playing the TE spot. I think Watson is good for 30-35 catches in this offense. I guess the competition is at the 3rd TE spot?
Michael Higgins: Seems like the favorite to win this spot. He has 2 seasons in very limited duty. From the little I have seen of him, he seems like more of a pass catching TE. Personally, I would prefer a bigger TE that had great blocking skills as our 3rd TE, even potentially someone who could also play FB if needed. Higgins may be a good undersized blocker, guess I don't know enough about him
Keavon Milton is a big boy. 6'4", 293 lbs. He seems like more of a blocking TE but I don't see his hands being good enough to keep him on the roster.
Josh Hill is more likely to give Higgins a run at a spot on the roster. Good hands, good speed for a TE. I think he needs to add on a little size, but is pretty strong. He's a guy to keep an eye on. If he proves to be a solid blocker and has a decent showing on offense, Higgins might lose that spot.
So what do you see happening with this group? Will the loss of Ivory doom the Saints running game? Will the addition of Ben Watson be valuable to Drew, or just another piece? Will Mark Ingram break out in 2013? GO!