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Saints 2009 Position Battles: Defensive End

Today we examine the last of the position groups on the defensive side of the ball: the defensive ends. Last years line was blamed for not getting enough pressure on the quarterback while having to deal with nagging injuries all season. With Gregg Williams now driving the bus, fans are expecting to see more pressure from the edge. But who will be invited to ride that bus?

A quick look at your New Orleans Saints defensive ends:

Player Height Weight Age Experience
Will Smith 6'3" 282 27 6
Charles Grant 6'3" 285 30 8
Bobby McCray 6'6" 260 27 6
Paul Spicer 6'4" 295 33 10
Josh Savage 6'4" 276 28 4
Jeff Charleston 6'4" 265 26 3
Rob Ninkovich 6'2" 255 25 3
Jermey Parnell 6'6" 278 22 R

Due to the large amount of money invested in both Will Smith and Charles Grant, making this team is a sure thing for these two. No need to even really discuss this matter. Whether or not they're worth it is another question altogether but hopefully they'll remain injury free and blossom under Gregg Williams' new system.

Bobby McCray was arguably the most productive defensive end on the Saints roster last season, leading the team in sacks with a total of six. McCray was a quarterback-seeking missile under Gibbs' vanilla defense so it will be fun to watch what happens now that he is in a blitz-happy scheme. With all that in mind, Bobby is a good bet to make the team for sure.

Free agent acquisition Paul Spicer was signed this off-season and should help add some depth on the line. The veteran may also slide to the inside if needed, making him that much more valuable. Regardless of where he plays, Spicer will make this team unless something goes horribly wrong.

The remaining players left battling it out for a spot will have to fight and claw their way onto the 2009 Saints roster. Jeff Charleston was the most productive of the bunch last season and actually contributed significantly. Josh Savage was also with the team in 2008 but was used very sparingly. Ninkovich never played a down while on the Saints practice squad last year and will be lucky to achieve the same feat for a second year in a row. Undrafted free agent rookie Jermy Parnell, though impressive in size, is doubtful to make the team. The good news for all four of these players is that if suspensions get handed down in the Starcaps case they have a good chance of seeing the field at least for four games.

The floor is now open. Will there be any surprises here when training camp opens? Can we expect more pressure this year from these players? Will Charles Grant and Will Smith earn their fat contracts this season?