As we count down from 50 days until the New Orleans Saints begin their regular season in Atlanta, on September 7th, we're getting to know a little bit about those players who have signed on to bring home another Lombardi trophy.
Today, we take a brief look at rookie running back Timothy Flanders and veteran linebacker Victor Butler, both of whom are hoping to take the field with the Saints for the first time this season.
So, with no more ado:
40 DAYS UNTIL ATLANTA!!!
#40 (RB) Timothy Flanders (Rookie)
After this year's NFL Draft, the Saints picked up this undrafted free agent out of Sam Houston State University. In college, Tim Flanders was the Southland Conference’s all-time leading rushing and scoring leader after carrying 999 times for 5,664 yards (5.9 avg.) and 66 touchdowns. A three-time Walter Payton award finalist, he finished his college career third in FCS career rushing touchdowns and sixth all time in FCS rushing and scoring.
Flanders redshirted as a true freshman at Kansas State, but he transferred to SHSU the next season. He quickly became the team's starter as a walk on, and went on to play 54 games for the Bearkats. In 2011 and 2012, he was named the Southland Conference Player of the Year. As a senior in 2013, he played in 14 games with 13 starts, carrying 241 times for 1,430 yards (5.9 avg.) and 14 touchdowns, and hauling in six receptions for 63 yards and one touchdown.
Tim was the first Southland Conference running back to gain more than 5,000 yards and score more than 400 points. He was the first Sam Houston player to earn first-team all-league honors four times, and also holds school records in rushing yards (5,664), carries (999), all-purpose yards (6,293), touchdowns (70) and 100-yard games (30). Finished his career in the FCS all-time top 10 in rushing yards, rushing touchdowns and scoring.
Considering the impressive stats Flanders racked up in college, and the fact that he totaled more than 5,000 rushing yards and 65 touchdowns during high school career, some might have expected him to be more highly sought after. However, he has small hands, and also tends to go down after first contact, instead of fighting for more yards. He also took a lot of hits while racking up 5,664 yards in 999 carries in college, so his longevity may be in question.
3 yr(s) / $1,530,000. Average: $510,000 per year through 2016.
#90 (OLB) Victor Butler (6th year, 2nd with Saints)
Victor Butler was drafted out of Oregon State by the Dallas Cowboys in the fourth round of the 2009 NFL Draft. Over his first four seasons in the NFL, he appeared in 63 contests with two starts for the Cowboys, and totaled: 65 tackles (48 solo), 11 sacks, five passes defensed, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries, plus 40 stops and one forced fumble on special teams.
After becoming an unrestricted free agent last year, Butler decided to follow defensive coordinator Rob Ryan to New Orleans. Although expectations were high for the linebacker, he suffered a season-ending knee injury in June and missed the entire 2013 season.
After knee surgery and several months of rehabilitation, Butler was a full participant in this year's OTA's and has returned to the field for training camp. If healthy, he is expected to supplement Rob Ryan’s pass rush this season, and could start opposite Junior Galette.
2 yr(s) $3,000,000. Average: $1,500,000 per year through 2014.