Mailbag: New Orleans Saints edition
Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas
We'll start off with the New Orleans Saints, who I just finished visiting, in our series of team-by-team mailbags.
Trent in Santa Maria, Cal. writes: Hey Pat, haven't heard much about RB Pierre Thomas from Saints camp, how's he looking carrying that extra weight?
Pat Yasinskas: Thomas looked good when I was at camp and I expect big things from him this year. The Saints know they have to run the ball more effectively and Thomas is going to play an instrumental role. I don't think he's really added that much weight. It's more a case of him working very hard in the offseason to get his lower body stronger and it looks like that worked. At the same time, Thomas had to be careful not to bulk up too much and risk losing speed. It looks like he's been successful in keeping his speed.
Mike in parts unknown: What is up with your blog? You are AT Saints camp yet you cover a story about a Falcons WR getting injured and not even a mention about Reggie Bush tweaking his knee. I'm not even a Saints fan either. I just want the story. Sorry dude but your blog just got deleted from my favorites. I thought you were one of the better bloggers/reporters ESPN had to offer. I've definitely rethought this and can't say I still believe that.
Pat Yasinskas: Sorry you feel that way, but you should know what really happened before making decisions like that. There's one reason I did not report on Bush tweaking his knee. That's because Bush DID NOT tweak his knee. We don't criticize other media outlets here, so let's just say the story was reported incorrectly by one media outlet and was a non-story for the rest of the media. What really happened was that Bush was never scheduled to practice Wednesday morning. But he came out and did stretches with the team. Then, he walked into the locker room. A bit later he came out with ice strapped to his knee and watched his teammates practice. The Saints were pretty clear that this was all part of the plan for the day when coach Sean Payton spoke after practice and said Bush would practice in the afternoon session, which he did. Most of the media corps clearly understood what was going on, but one outlet was confused and issued an erroneous report. There was no "setback" to Bush's knee. The Falcons' receiver you refer to was Harry Douglas. He actually did get hurt and is out for the season. That actually happened, so that's why I wrote about it.
Chez in Colorado Springs writes: Pat, after seeing the Saints revamped defense first hand, do you feel at this point Malcolm Jenkins may have fallen too far behind to come in and make an immediate impact?
Pat Yasinskas: It's starting to look that way. Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter are having very nice camps and I'm guessing they open the season as the starters. Randall Gay also was having a good camp before suffering an ankle injury that should sideline him for a short period. Even the much-maligned Jason David is having a strong camp. Jenkins is a great athlete with tremendous upside. I'm sure he'll get signed at some point, but each practice session he misses hurts. The Saints won't throw him out there until he's ready. Right now, the other guys are going to be far more ready than Jenkins.
Michael in San Francisco writes: Watching from the west coach, it looks to me and many die-hard NFL fans, that the Saints have been the biggest under-acheivers in the NFC South for the last several years. They are clearly loaded with Offensive and even some defensive talent. With the Defense, it was more a matter of scheme than talent...... just watch the Saints take complete control of that division for the next several years to come.
Pat Yasinskas: Hey, that could happen. I was thoroughly impressed with the Saints in camp. We already knew the offense was great and it could be even better with Marques Colston and Jeremy Shockey completely healthy. The defense, obviously, is the big concern after what's happened the last two years. But I like the personnel moves the Saints made in the offseason. As soon as I saw them on the practice field, it was obvious new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has brought an entirely different attitude -- and that's a very big positive. Now, the Saints just have to go out in the regular season and play up to their talent level.
Carl in Palmyra, Va., writes: Greg Williams' defense in Washington included a lot of blitzing by the safeties and corner backs. Which of the Saint's DB's are going to be filling that role?
Pat Yasinskas: All of them. Seriously. Williams' style is to bring it from every direction and that's not going to change.
Brian in Gulfport, Miss., writes: Hey Pat, do you think the Saints have any talent on there roster that can push Scott Shanle for his starting outside linebacker position? Outside of Johnathan Vilma and Scott Fujita are their any young linebackers who are making an impression?
Pat Yasinskas: Glad you asked that question because I think it's very relevant. The Saints were hoping Dan Morgan or Stanley Arnoux could provide an upgrade from Shanle. But Morgan retired and Arnoux got hurt. For the moment, the Saints appear to be sticking with Shanle. But two young linebackers, Anthony Waters and Jonathan Casillas, really impressed me when I visited camp. They seemed to be around the ball all the time. Keep an eye on them.