Mailbag: New Orleans Saints edition
We'll start our series of team-by-team mailbags with the New Orleans Saints.
John in Phoenix writes: Pat: Is Shockey following through with the off-season promise of spending time in New Orleans and working out with Brees & Co.?
Pat Yasinskas: That's the word. I know Jeremy Shockey didn't exactly light it up last season. But he was banged up all year. He's a guy with a lot of pride and last year frustrated him. I think he'll be very motivated to bounce back.
Chuck in parts unknown writes: The secondary of the Saints seems to have gone from weakness to strength. We have several potential starters at corner. Who do you see lining up at corner week one and why?
Pat Yasinskas: You can go ahead and put Jabari Greer at one cornerback spot. The Saints paid him big money and they expect big things. The other spot is going to be an interesting competition between first-round pick Malcolm Jenkins and second-year pro Tracy Porter, who missed a lot of his rookie season with an injury. It would be easy to give Porter the edge because he has some experience. But that's not necessarily true because this is a new defensive system. If Jenkins shows he's ready, he'll start right away and Porter will be the nickel back. If Jenkins isn't quite ready, Porter probably gets the starting nod and Jenkins can work as the nickel back.
Jody in Hammond writes: Hey Pat, Is it me or does it seem like the Saints now have quality depth at almost every position on defense?
Pat Yasinskas: On paper, you have to like all the moves the Saints have made to their defense this offseason. They sure look good. But last season showed how injuries can drag a defense down. I do think the Saints are set up better this year as far as being able to absorb some injuries.
Joe who is deployed writes: Pat, I realize it is a little premature, but if the Saints fizzle out this year, do you foresee Sean Payton getting tanked? The guy is a great offensive mind but I just can't shake the 'Ghost of Haslett's past' feeling!
Pat Yasinskas: It clearly is a big year for Payton. He's missed the playoffs two years in a row and this isn't a league known for patience. Firing defensive coordinator Gary Gibbs and replacing him with Gregg Williams peeled away a layer of insulation for Payton. If the defense fails this season, the head coach may become the scapegoat.
Ray Ray in Lake Charles, LA writes: I'm just wondering what kind of player can the Saints expect from a healthy Dan Morgan?
Pat Yasinskas: If he can stay healthy, I say Dan Morgan can be the best linebacker on this team and that includes Jonathan Vilma. Morgan is a tremendous player and showed flashes of being one of the best linebackers in the league when he was in Carolina. The problem was Morgan never stayed healthy for very long. That's always going to be a concern. But I've talked to Morgan several times this offseason. After his one-year "retirement,'' he says he's feeling better than at any point since he came into the NFL. That's encouraging.
Gabriel in Alabama writes: do you think Herb Donaldson is going to start at running back since he seems to be the best power running back on the roster?
Pat Yasinskas: I think it's a little premature to look for an undrafted rookie to be your starting running back. That job belongs to Pierre Thomas and he's a good one. The Saints brought Donaldson in to compete for the job as the short-yardage runner. That's the role in which he'll have a chance to contribute.