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Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Saints position battles

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

Here's a look at two of the biggest position battles in New Orleans' camp:

KaesviharnBullocks

Free safety: Kevin Kaesviharn vs. Josh Bullocks.

This is not a position of strength for the Saints, who upgraded their defensive line by drafting Sedrick Ellis and their linebacker corps by bringing in Jonathan Vilma. With an improved front seven, there's the chance for the starting free safety to be a playmaker.

Bullocks started most of last year, but he was beaten in coverage at times and never has played consistently well. Bullocks also is coming off knee surgery and that could open the door for Kaesviharn.

At least at the start of camp, Kaesviharn is expected to get the work with the first team. Unless he really struggles or Bullocks has an outstanding camp, Kaesviharn probably will open the season as the starter.

Intensity index: Mild

Running back: Deuce McAllister vs. Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas

 
 Jim O'Connor/US PRESSWIRE
 If his knee can't hold up, Saints RB Deuce McAllister will be in a battle for the starting job.

McAllister is coming back from his second major knee injury and he's not getting any younger. But he showed the ability to make it back from serious injury before and he's been the most dependable back in the NFC South this decade. The Saints may bring him along slowly in camp, but, if he's healthy, he'll probably be the opening-day starter.

Bush has yet to show signs he can be an every-down back, although he'll play a big role as a situational player. Thomas showed some promise, averaging 4.8 yards a carry last season, but he's not a real threat to a healthy McAllister.

Intensity index: Hot