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Thursday, September 16, 2010
New Orleans Saints mailbag

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

The New Orleans Saints are up in our series of team-by-team mailbags.

Nate in Palmer, Alaska writes: I'm sure your box is overloaded with Reggie Bush comments. I wanted to share mine. First off, I am not a fan of Reggie Bush. I just don't like him and have never been much of a fan of his. It is becoming more apparent that he probably accepted some gifts which is against the rules, and even though I'll be the first person to say he should pay whatever price is due, returning the Heisman which he did win by running over everyone seems kind of silly. Accepting gifts surely didn't make him run any faster or better in the end. He earned it.

Pat Yasinskas: The NCAA found that Bush violated rules while he was at USC and they’ve punished the Trojans for that. But, as far as him forfeiting the Heisman, I think that’s kind of unnecessary. I know the NCAA and the Heisman Trust like to talk about integrity. That’s a wonderful concept. But is it a reality in the modern world of college sports? Anyway, I’m with you. Bush was clearly the best player in college football that year. Even if he doesn’t have the trophy, he’ll always have the memories, and anyone who watched him that season will have memories of a spectacular performance.


Kenneth in Boston writes: How are the Saints going to incorporate Danny Clark into the lineup? Will he just be a backup or will he be some competition with Jo-Lonn Dunbar for the starting position? His resume looks consistently impressive.

Pat Yasinskas: Clark was inactive for the opener, but I think that was mainly because he just joined the team. Yes, he was with the Saints previously, but that was before the arrival of defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. Clark has to learn Williams’ defense, and that might take a little time. But I expect to start seeing a little bit of Clark rotating with Dunbar pretty soon. Once Clark gets the system down, he’s got a shot to become the starter.


Scott in St. Amant, La., writes: Twice in the Sean Payton era the Saints have traded up in the 4th round to get a player they cut on the final roster, Al Woods this year and Antonio Pittman 4 years ago (he was beaten out by Undrafted Free Agent Pierre Thomas). They also cut 3rd rounder Andy Alleman. Alleman and Pittman are still in the NFL, and Woods is a practice squad player. It seems like this is an established trend now. Do you think the value of establishing that players win roster spots only by competition outweighs the loss of 5 mid-level picks for these two players who never suited up for a game?

Pat Yasinskas: I respect the Saints for not sticking with a guy just because he was a draft pick. If somebody else is outplaying the draft pick, then somebody else should make the roster. And you can’t argue too much with what the Saints have done in the draft since Payton and Mickey Loomis have been together. Getting guys like Jahri Evans and Marques Colston in the middle or late rounds is pretty impressive.


Luke in Virginia writes: I've seen both from you and from others that the Saints run defense was made to look bad against the Vikings. I don't see that. Is there a play or a stat that makes you think that? While I was watching the game it seemed to me that we never gave up any big plays on the ground, Peterson’s long was 14. He was under 100 yards. No touchdowns. Yeah, his average was a little high but I remember on multiple 3rds and shorts we got him down. Last year that would have been almost a given. Plus our offense was getting multiple three and outs, so they got the ball a lot. Besides that one long drive at the end of the half we really did a good job of holding them. Plus Sedrick Ellis seemed like he had a great game - per your prediction. So I guess given all that why is it you say the run defense looked bad?

Pat Yasinskas: I’ll back off my initial impressions a bit and part of the reason for that is what you just said. As I watched the game in the Superdome, it seemed like Adrian Peterson was chopping up the Saints. Peterson’s going to chop up a lot of teams because he’s an excellent running back. But you are correct – when you go back and look at the statistics and the grand scheme of things, he didn’t exactly tear the defense apart.