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Saints 2009 Position Battles: Running Back

It's time, yet again, for another installment of Da Chronic's very early look at the 2009 roster. The competition at running back is on the examining board today. We know Bush and Pierre will be toting the rock for the Saints this season but who else will be in the backfield?

Here is who the Saints have on the roster so far at the running back position:

Player Height Weight Age Experience
Reggie Bush 6'0" 203 24 4
Pierre Thomas 5'11" 215 24 3
Lynell Hamilton 6'0" 235 23 1
Mike Bell 6'0" 225 26 4
Herb Donaldson 5'10" 225 23 R
P.J. Hill 5'11" 236 22 R

Herb Donaldson is actually not listed on the roster at the New Orleans Saints official website nor was he included in their rookie free agent class announcement yesterday but last I have heard he is on the Saints so he is under consideration here.

The breakdown on this one isn't too difficult. We know Reggie and Pierre will be the main backs this year. Just how they get used is a whole other story that I just don't care to get into right now but they will be on the final 2009 roster. The door is wide open, however, for a big, bruising back in the absence of Deuce McAllister. That means the real competition this year will be among the remaining four players for what will probably be two open spots.

Mike Bell is the only one of the four players that has any real NFL experience and was used sparingly by the Saints last season. He played four games and averaged 3.2 yards on 13 carries including one touchdown. Not much of a body of work but I remember being pleased with his contribution late last year. His play last year does not guarantee him a spot on this years roster though, and Bell is by no means a certainty.

The remaining players, Hamilton, Donaldson and Hill, are all relative unknowns. Though Hamilton was with the team last year he dressed only for the final game against Carolina and never took a carry. He could be easily replaced by one of the two undrafted free agents, Donaldson and Hill, during training camp. Donaldson in particular has been the early favorite as a possibility to make the final roster. The good news is that all three of these guys all have similar builds that are ideal for a big third-down back. It's pretty obvious what Payton is attempting to add to his roster this off-season. The race here is wide open and many Saints fans are hoping to find a diamond in the rough with one of these players.

Who, if anyone, will be that diamond?