NFL Nation: Johnny Patrick

Six days before the start of free agency, the New York Jets picked up an experienced cornerback, acquiring Johnny Patrick on waivers from the San Diego Chargers.

With Antonio Cromartie's future uncertain, it makes sense to stockpile corners, although Patrick is primarily a slot corner in the nickel package. In 13 games last season (four starts), he played 474 defensive snaps (48 percent). He recorded one interception, 1.5 sacks, one forced fumble and two pass breakups.

Patrick, 25, was a third-round pick of the New Orleans Saints in 2011. The former Louisville standout lasted only two seasons in New Orleans. He was waived last February and scooped up immediately by the Chargers. Patrick has suffered multiple concussions and was placed on injured reserve late last season with an ankle injury.

The Chargers are rebuilding at cornerback and didn't see Patrick as part of their future, cutting him Tuesday. The Jets' top three corners (Cromartie, Dee Milliner and Kyle Wilson) are under contract, but Cromartie has a $15 million cap charge and likely will be released if he doesn't take a pay cut. Beyond the top three, their depth is sketchy.
SAN DIEGO -- Philip Rivers admitted to rooting for the New England Patriots this weekend.

“It’s certainly one of the few times I ever have,” River said.

Weddle
Rivers
But the San Diego Chargers did not get the result they wanted, with the Patriots losing at Miami over the weekend. Still, Rivers understands his team can’t get caught watching the scoreboard as they fight for an AFC wild-card spot.

“What’s most important for our team is just to focus on trying to win another division game and see if we can get to 8-7,” Rivers said. “I think worrying about anything more than that doesn’t help you at all. Worry about anything more than that would be silly, really, because we can only control our end.”

Running back Ryan Mathews, receiver Eddie Royal, safety Eric Weddle and defensive back Johnny Patrick did not take the field during an hour-long practice for the Chargers.

Monday was a bonus workout day, as San Diego coach Mike McCoy gets his team prepared for the final two weeks of the season.

Mathews has been dealing with a lingering hamstring issue, while Royal has had a toe injury limit his work in practice for the past two months.

Patrick missed last week’s game against Denver because of an ankle injury. And Weddle’s missed practice was a rest day.

“It’s huge for this team,” Weddle said about the extra rest. “It’s very rare that you get an extra bye week this late in the season to kind of rejuvenate yourself, and get those injuries that you’ve had bothering you, get them healed up for the last couple games.”

Weddle was asked how much he and his teammates worry about the loss of earlier games this season against teams like Tennessee, Houston and Washington -- wins that would have put them in better position to make the playoffs.

“We can lament and kick ourselves for those losses,” Weddle said. “Or we can worry about what we can control, and that’s two games left in the season. I really don’t care what happened in the previous 14 games because they’re gone, and I’m focused on the Raiders. And that’s what this whole team is focused on -- trying to build on what we’ve done the last couple weeks and finish the season strong.”
SAN DIEGO -- For the first time in many weeks, the San Diego Chargers had all 53 players on the active roster participate in practice Tuesday -- a good sign for a team facing the Denver Broncos, who are undefeated at home.

"The last couple weeks coming out of games we've been fairly healthy," San Diego coach Mike McCoy said. "Every game you're going to have some dings, but nothing serious. So it's been a good couple weeks for us."

Receiver Eddie Royal (toe), center Nick Hardwick (neck), cornerback Shareece Wright (foot) and defensive back Johnny Patrick (ankle) were limited in practice.

Receiver Keenan Allen (shoulder), tackle D.J. Fluker (ankle), defensive end Lawrence Guy (toe), linebacker Jarret Johnson (hand), defensive tackle Sean Lissemore (toe) and defensive end Corey Liuget (knee) were full participants.

Royal had not practiced since injuring his toe against Indianapolis on Oct. 14. Royal missed just one game over the past seven because of the injury, against Cincinnati. With less practice time, Royal said he put in more film study and mental reps to make sure he was prepared to play.

"I just had to study more than normal," Royal said. "Because when you're out there running the plays, you don't normally have to go home and look at it for hours. But now that you're not doing it, you want to make sure that you're detailed in what you're doing. There's a lot of little things that you have to pay attention to when you're not out there practicing every day."
SAN DIEGO -- Outside linebacker Melvin Ingram said he had a good week of practice, but will not be added to his team’s active roster for the San Diego Chargers" target="_blank">San Diego Chargers' game at Kansas City.

Ingram
“I’m not playing this week,” Ingram said. “They’ve been through a lot more stuff than I have. I’ve just been through rehab, working out and conditioning stuff. But they’ve been through training camp and almost three-fourths of a season. So I just need to work on everything, and I’m just trying to get better every day.”

Ingram remains on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list, but practiced for the first time this week, moving fluidly and showing some explosion through individual drills during the early portions of practice.

However, Ingram still is a little over six months out from having surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. The Chargers have until Dec. 10 to add Ingram to the active roster, or place him on the reserve PUP list for the remainder of the regular season.

“Until you practice enough and do certain things, you’re not going to be in football shape,” San Diego coach Mike McCoy said. “You’ve got to get out there and put the pads on, and do things a certain way before you get in football shape. He’s worked extremely hard, and he’s in good shape right now.”

McCoy on if Ingram will play this season: “I think that he’s got a very good chance. But it’s also something where we’ve got to each day pick it up for him, and see how his knee responds. He’s done a great job with it these last three days. So we’ll take it week by week and see how he feels.”

Outside linebacker Jarret Johnson (hand), left tackle King Dunlap (neck) and receiver Eddie Royal (toe) did not practice on Friday. Dunlap is listed as out. Johnson is doubtful, and Royal is questionable.

McCoy said that Johnson played with a similar hand injury while with the Ravens. Johnson's left hand is in a soft cast after having surgery to fix the issue on Monday. Johnson's already missed three games this season due to a lingering hamstring issue.

“I’m always hopeful, yeah,” said Johnson, when asked about the prospect of playing this week. “Any injury slows you down and limits you, but everybody’s dealing with stuff, especially at this point in the season.

“This is a very important game for us and everybody needs to carry their weight. I’ve struggled with that this year with all my injuries. That’s not something new, but that’s something you’ve got to deal with.”

San Diego’s nickel cornerback Johnny Patrick (concussion) was cleared to practice on Friday after sitting out most of the week, and was a full participant. Patrick is questionable for Sunday’s game.

With Johnson and Ingram likely out, the Chargers likely will go with Thomas Keiser and Tourek Williams at outside linebacker, with Reggie Walker and Adrian Robinson serving as backups.

Center Nick Hardwick (neck), receiver Vincent Brown (shoulder), safety Jahleel Addae (ankle), receiver Keenan Allen (knee), running back Ryan Mathews (hamstring), defensive end Lawrence Guy (toe) and linebacker Manti Te'o (elbow) were full participants and are probable.
It seems the San Diego Chargers’ left tackle job is still open and a familiar face may be getting back in the mix.

U-T San Diego reported second-year player Mike Harris was working with the first unit Saturday. The San Diego offensive line, the team’s biggest question mark, was beaten badly at Chicago on Thursday.

King Dunlap, who had been the starter this summer, was working as a backup right tackle and his competition, Max Starks, was working behind Harris. Harris was the starter at left tackle as an undrafted rookie last season.

The team was trying to upgrade. I still think Dunlap has the inside shot at the job, but this development shows the team still has big concerns at the vital spot.

In other San Diego notes:

Defensive end Corey Liuget, who was banged up at Chicago on Thursday, didn’t practice Saturday. The team said Thursday he was taken out of the game as a precaution. Rookie inside linebacker Manti Te’o continues to be in a walking boot. He was hurt in the preseason opener nine days ago. Last Saturday, San Diego coach Mike McCoy said Te’o, a starter, would be out a week. Nickel cornerback Johnny Patrick is out. He injured his jaw at Chicago. U-T San Diego reports cornerback Steve Williams, a fifth-round draft pick, tore his pectoral muscle at Chicago and he will miss the season.

Malcolm Floyd was working on the side Saturday. He suffered a knee strain Monday. The team is hopeful he can play in Week 1 against Houston.
SAN DIEGO -- Gone is the omnipresent GM lurking from the large deck that hovers over the practice field.

Gone is the comfortable head coach who went at his own pace.

It’s a new day for the San Diego Chargers. There is new energy in America’s Finest City.

Change was badly needed. The Chargers arguably had the best roster in the NFL five years ago, but it never paid off. The lack of success finally cost general manager A.J. Smith and coach Norv Turner their jobs after another lackluster season in 2012.

The Chargers’ fans demanded new leadership for the stagnant franchise. They got their wish. The Chargers now have some of the youngest, freshest leaders in football as the team moves past the stale days of the Smith-Turner era.

Smith was famous for watching practice from the deck of his office. New general manager Tom Telesco, 40, watches practice from the sideline. There are no messages of pecking order being sent from the general manager’s office. Telesco, in a camp-issued T-shirt and shorts, could easily be mistaken for an equipment manager.

The head-coaching switch from Turner to Mike McCoy, 41, is almost as distinctive as the change at GM. McCoy’s practices have appeared to be crisper and more detailed-oriented than in the past. There isn’t much downtime in San Diego’s practices. Everyone’s moving at all times. That wasn’t always the case under Turner.

“I think we’re getting a lot done,” quarterback Philip Rivers said. “Coach McCoy clearly has a plan. It’s been impressive. ... The big thing is everyone has bought in to him. The reality is we are .500 over the past three years. It was pretty easy to buy in what’s now going on here.”

THREE HOT ISSUES

[+] EnlargePhilip Rivers
AP Photo/Lenny IgnelziPhilip Rivers threw 15 picks last season to just 26 touchdown passes.
1. The quarterback: Rivers is a major focal point of this training camp. Telesco hired McCoy, Denver’s former offensive coordinator, with an eye toward fixing Rivers. The quarterback has struggled the past couple of years, particularly with turnovers. McCoy and new offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, the former head coach of Arizona, form a strong quarterback-coaching tandem and quarterback coach Frank Reich is also highly regarded. All three men believe in Rivers, and it seems to be paying off. Rivers has looked fantastic in training camp. His confidence is high, and his passes are accurate. It is vital for both Rivers and the Chargers that he has a good season and the team continues build around him. If not, it could be a crossroads season for both the franchise and Rivers’ career.

2. The offensive line: Because of injuries, this unit has been terrible the past couple of years. No matter how much Rivers improves, he won’t have much of a chance if he doesn't have protection. The Chargers' line has four new starters. It is not a great unit, and there will be some growing pains. But the group is getting rave reviews for being athletic and tough. Rivers is impressed and trusts the group. He thinks it’s deeper with players such as rookie D.J. Fluker at right tackle and veterans King Dunlap and Max Starks competing at left tackle. Dunlap is leading the race. But if there are injuries, this group appears better equipped to weather them than last year's squad.

3. The rookie linebacker: The Chargers are thrilled with inside linebacker Manti Te'o. He will start in the team’s 3-4 schemes. He has looked good in training camp and has fit in with the locker room. The hoax he was involved in at Notre Dame is not a factor. The Chargers love the way he works and practices. He is instinctive, and he plays faster on the field than his combine times suggested. The Chargers think Te’o is ready to make a big impact.

REASON FOR OPTIMISM

[+] EnlargeManti Te'o
Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY SportsThe Chargers are happy with the progress of second-rounder Manti Te'o, who's slated to start at inside linebacker.
The Chargers are loaded with young talent on defense. Any defense that has Eric Weddle at safety, Te’o and Donald Butler at inside linebacker and Corey Liuget and Kendall Reyes at defensive end is an impressive group.

I think these players will be the core to one of the better defenses in the coming years. The Chargers are doing backflips over the combination of Liuget and Reyes. Liuget is entering his third NFL season, and Reyes is entering his second. Liuget was terrific all of last season, and Reyes showed serious pass-rush potential toward the end of the season.

While this defense has some holes, there are some exciting pieces here.

REASON FOR PESSIMISM

The Chargers are pretty thin in a lot of places. I think this team is on the rise, but it may not be a quick fix. There are too many positions where depth is an issue.

San Diego has dealt with the injury bug already. Pass-rusher Melvin Ingram, the No. 18 overall pick in 2012, suffered a torn ACL in May. Starting receiver Danario Alexander and backup linebacker Jonas Mouton suffered the same injury during camp.

Alexander's and Ingram’s injuries are particularly worrisome. This team can’t afford to lose high-end talent before the season starts. Other positions vulnerable to injuries include the offensive line (even though the depth is better than in the past), defensive tackle, edge rushers and the secondary. There isn’t much wiggle room on this roster.

OBSERVATION DECK
  • The Chargers appear to be well-coached. The influx of offensive coaches and the return of several defensive coaches, led by coordinator John Pagano, makes for a nice mix. Most of the new blood was needed on the offensive side of the ball.
  • The team feels great about Dwight Freeney, who was signed to replace Ingram. The Chargers are convinced Freeney still has something left in the tank and will be a difference-maker.
  • The Chargers like the progress of nose tackle Cam Thomas, who they think is ready for a breakout year. Coaches and teammates are talking him up big.
  • San Diego is looking to add depth on the defensive line. Free agent Justin Bannan on is still on the team’s radar. I think we will see the Chargers be active on the waiver wire at a few positions.
  • Free-agent guard Chad Rinehart is showing solid leadership skills.
  • The team loves free-agent running back Danny Woodhead. He has been a camp star and should take pressure off starter Ryan Mathews. Expect to see Woodhead used in several different ways. He could be a poor man’s Darren Sproles, perhaps.
  • Yes, tight end Antonio Gates hasn’t had a superstar season in years because of injuries, but the team likes what they see from him. He may have another year or two left in the tank.
  • Ladarius Green, Gates’ potential successor, is still growing. But he has shown flashes. He has natural pass-catching ability.
  • While there are questions at cornerback, the Chargers feel like Derek Cox and Shareece Wright will be an upgrade over last year’s starting duo of Quentin Jammer and Antoine Cason.
  • Rookie quarterback Brad Sorensen has been up and down. He has a good enough arm to keep him on the 53-man roster.
  • Cornerback Johnny Patrick has looked good. He could see a lot of action in nickel situations.
  • Fifth-round pick Tourek Williams is getting looks at both defensive end and outside linebacker. The team would like for him to contribute at linebacker.
  • Robert Meachem, a big-money, free-agent bust last season, has been given new life after Alexander’s injury. Still, I have my doubts that Meachem will make much of a difference. He hasn’t been a standout in camp.

CB-needy Chargers make claim

February, 20, 2013
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Catching up on a travel day:

New San Diego general manager Tom Telesco made a potentially intriguing move Wednesday by claiming cornerback Johnny Patrick off waivers from New Orleans.

Patrick was a third-round pick in 2011 and he is just 24. Talented cornerbacks are always worth taking a flier on. It is especially intriguing in San Diego because the Chargers need depth at the position. Starting cornerbacks Quentin Jammer and Antoine Cason are both free agents. At least one of the two is expected to sign elsewhere. So, giving Patrick a chance may be worthwhile.

In other AFC West news:

Free-agent pass-rusher Dwight Freeney told ProFootballtalk.com that former Colts teammate and current Denver quarterback Peyton Manning has begun to try to recruit him to the Broncos. Freeney, though, said he thinks the Broncos might be set with pass-rushers with standouts Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil. Still, I think if Freeney, 32, doesn’t get an opportunity to be a primary pass-rusher, Denver could be interested in him as a rotational pass-rusher.

In an Insider piece, ESPN analyst Bill Polian takes a look at some of the biggest needs for each AFC West team.Insider

Former Kansas City general manager Scott Pioli has joined SiriusXM NFL Radio as an analyst.
The New Orleans Saints just freed up $2.219 million in salary-cap space.

The Saints reportedly have parted ways with tight end David Thomas and cornerback Johnny Patrick. Releasing Thomas instantly frees up $1.7 million in cap space. The waiver of Patrick clears another $468,655.

That should be a big help as the Saints continue the process of getting under the salary cap before the start of the league year in March. Thomas had been a valuable contributor as a jack of all trades the past four seasons, but the Saints now can look for a less expensive backup to Jimmy Graham.

Patrick, a third-round pick in 2011, was a disappointment. He struggled in coverage last season as the Saints ranked No. 32 in overall defense.

Wrap-up: Saints 34, Cowboys 31 (OT)

December, 23, 2012
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Thoughts on the New Orleans Saints’ 34-31 overtime victory against Dallas at Cowboys Stadium on Sunday:

What it means: The Saints improved to 7-8, but they might have done themselves more harm than good in the locker run by hurting Dallas’ playoff hopes. Suspended New Orleans coach Sean Payton remains without a contract for next season and there’s been a ton of speculation that he could end up in Dallas, where he served as an assistant coach and was very close to owner Jerry Jones. If the Cowboys don’t make the playoffs, the chances that Jones will fire coach Jason Garrett increase dramatically. If there’s an opening in Dallas and Payton hasn’t already worked out a new deal with New Orleans, Jones is likely to come after Payton with an open checkbook.

What I liked: The way the Saints came to play even though they began the day with only the slightest chance of backing into the playoffs and that scenario was eliminated as the day went on. This team faced a lot of adversity all season long, but the Saints never used that as an excuse. Drew Brees threw for a season-high 437 yards, middle linebacker Curtis Lofton forced a fumble and recovered it to set up a crucial touchdown and the Saints still pulled out the overtime win after blowing a 14-point fourth-quarter lead.

What I didn’t like: A defense that seemed to be improving in recent weeks struggled mightily. The secondary in particular had major problems, especially when it came to attempting to cover Dez Bryant. Cornerback Jabari Greer left the game with a concussion and backup Johnny Patrick had a very rough day. That defense is the reason the Saints aren’t going to the playoffs and a lot of work has to be done on that side of the ball in the offseason.

What’s next: The Saints complete their season next Sunday by hosting the Carolina Panthers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Saints without two injured starters

September, 16, 2012
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- As expected, the New Orleans Saints will be without two injured starters. Receiver Devery Henderson (concussion) and cornerback Johnny Patrick (thigh) are inactive for Sunday’s game with Carolina.

The other inactives are running back Chris Ivory, running back Travaris Cadet, defensive lineman Tyrunn Walker, offensive lineman Bryce Harris and defensive end Turk McBride. Lance Moore is likely to start in Henderson’s place with Greg Camarillo and Joe Morgan getting time as the third and fourth receivers. Jabari Greer returns after missing last week’s game and will start at cornerback opposite Patrick Robinson. Rookie Corey White is expected to be used as the third cornerback.

Also, rookie defensive tackle Akiem Hicks will be active for the first time.

Carolina’s inactives are quarterback Jimmy Clausen, defensive back D.J. Campbell, linebacker Kenny Onatolu, tackle Bruce Campbell, guard Mike Pollak, tight end Ben Hartsock and defensive tackle Frank Kearse. Receiver Steve Smith and running back Jonathan Stewart, who had been listed as questionable, are active for Carolina.

Jabari Greer out for Saints

September, 9, 2012
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NEW ORLEANS -- The Saints, who currently have just 50 players on their roster, only had to deactivate four players for Sunday's game with the Washington Redskins, but there are a couple of big names on the list.

Cornerback Jabari Greer is inactive. Greer has been out since having sports-hernia surgery in August. Either Johnny Patrick or Corey White will start in his place.

Another move of note is that running back Chris Ivory is inactive. The Saints chose to activate undrafted rookie Travaris Cadet over Ivory.

Defensive tackles Tyrunn Walker and Akiem Hicks also are inactive.

Saints shuffling cornerbacks

August, 2, 2012
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There’s some news out of New Orleans that is less than ideal, but it might not be disastrous if the time frame works out as expected.

Assistant head coach Joe Vitt said that cornerback Jabari Greer is having sports hernia surgery in Philadelphia. Vitt said he expects Greer to be ready for the start of the regular season.

If that ends up being the case, the Saints are fine. Greer is a proven veteran who can pop right back in after missing most of camp and the entire preseason. But, if the time table runs longer on Greer’s recovery and he’s not ready for the start of the regular season, then the Saints face a potential problem.

Greer is New Orleans’ best cornerback and I say he’s the best corner in the NFC South. Fellow starting cornerback Patrick Robinson has also missed some camp time with a minor injury. That’s given guys like Johnny Patrick, Marquis Johnson and Elbert Mack an opportunity to get more practice time in camp and that’s a silver lining. Patrick is a second-year guy who the Saints would like to use as their nickelback and this will give the coaching staff a good chance to really gauge his progress. All indications are Patrick is having a good camp.

But I don’t think he’s reached a point in his career where the Saints would be very comfortable if he has to open the season as a starter.

NFC South evening update

July, 31, 2012
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Time to take a look at the day’s headlines from around the NFC South.
  • Carolina general manager Marty Hurney said he plans to meet with offensive tackle Jeff Otah on Wednesday. The Panthers previously traded Otah to the New York Jets, but that deal was rescinded after Otah couldn’t pass a physical. The Panthers already were prepared to move on without Otah, and I don’t see them hanging onto him now. It will be tough to find another trade partner now because the fact Otah couldn’t pass a physical was made very public. I think Carolina’s only choice is to release Otah. But we’ll see if Hurney has something up his sleeve.
  • Undrafted rookie quarterback Dominique Davis drew some praise from coach Mike Smith. The coach talked about Davis’ strong arm. I can verify that. When I was at Atlanta’s camp, it clearly was evident Davis has a strong arm. But the thing that caused me a little concern was that he seemed to have only one speed -- fast. It didn’t matter if it was a screen pass or a shot over the middle to a receiver or a tight end, Davis was throwing the ball very hard, and didn’t seem to have a lot of touch.
  • Tampa Bay middle linebacker Mason Foster said he knows there are no guarantees as to how the linebacker group will be utilized in the regular season. But it’s pretty obvious the Bucs want Foster starting in the middle, with Quincy Black and rookie Lavonte David on the outside. Unless they really struggle in the preseason, I don’t think you’ll see any changes.
  • The Buccaneers got their first day off from training camp Tuesday. That’s probably a good thing. This team is off to a rough start when it comes to injuries, and a little rest can’t hurt.
METAIRIE, La. -- The New Orleans Saints will be hitting the field for their first practice of training camp late Thursday afternoon.

I’ll be out there gathering information for my Camp Confidential profile on the Saints, which is scheduled to run Monday, as well as stuff for our season preview that will be running late in the preseason. I’ll also be providing some live updates after practice and interviews.

This will be one of the more unique seasons in NFL history, because coach Sean Payton is suspended for the season and other members of the organization will serve suspensions at various times. So let’s run through a quick preview of some of the things I’ll be watching.

[+] EnlargeJoe Vitt
AP Photo/Margaret BowlesJoe Vitt will be the Saints' acting head coach in training camp, but will serve a six-game suspension to start the regular season.
The chemistry of the coaches: Assistant head coach Joe Vitt has been running things during the offseason, and will continue to do so during training camp. But Vitt will have to serve his suspension during the first six games of the regular season. It has been reported that offensive line coach Aaron Kromer will take over for Vitt, but the team hasn’t made any official announcement. Putting Kromer in the top spot makes sense, because it allows coordinators Steve Spagnuolo and Pete Carmichael to focus on the defense and the offense. Vitt has been Payton’s right-hand man since their arrival in New Orleans in 2006, so training camp is likely to look like business as usual for the players. But it’s going to be different for the coaches. After a bizarre offseason, the coaches have to use training camp to prepare for what will be a major change at the start of camp.

Running back Mark Ingram: He didn’t have a huge impact as a rookie because of injuries and a steady rotation in the backfield. But Ingram was a first-round pick, and the expectations are high. We’ll first find out if he’s healthy. If he is, then we’ll start to see how he will fit into a backfield that’s crowded with Darren Sproles, Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory.

Junior Galette: New Orleans fans have had a fascination with this guy since he arrived in 2010. It’s understandable, because the defensive end has a unique combination of size and speed, and has shown flashes of promise in the past two training camps. That didn’t translate into much in Galette’s rookie season, but there were some signs last season, that he could be an impact player. Galette produced 4.5 sacks as a part-time player. With Will Smith expected to serve a four-game suspension at the start of the season, the Saints are looking for a pass-rusher. Galette and second-year pro Martez Wilson, who is making the transition from linebacker to defensive end, have the most upside of the younger players in camp. If they continue to develop, they could take on major roles in the regular season.

The young cornerbacks: Patrick Robinson and Johnny Patrick are a lot like Galette and Wilson. They’re young, have a lot of potential, and likely will get a lot more playing time than they have in the past. With Tracy Porter departing as a free agent, the Saints are expecting Robinson to step into the starting role opposite Jabari Greer, and Patrick to become the nickel back. This is all part of a master plan. The Saints were preparing for Porter’s departure when they drafted Robinson and Patrick.

The changes at linebacker: No position received more attention in the offseason. Knowing Jonathan Vilma could face suspension, and realizing that the linebacker play wasn’t great last season, the Saints added Curtis Lofton, David Hawthorne and Chris Chamberlain as free agents. They still have veterans like Scott Shanle, Will Herring and Jonathan Casillas. Other than Lofton in the middle, no one is guaranteed a starting job. The Saints are going to throw all the other linebackers out there in camp, let them compete and see who steps up to earn starting jobs.

Tracy Porter to visit Broncos

March, 20, 2012
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Peyton Manning could have some company from the NFC South in Denver.

Cornerback Tracy Porter reportedly will visit with the Broncos on Wednesday, according to AFC West colleague Bill Williamson.

The Denver trip will come after Porter completes a visit with the Tennessee Titans. Porter reportedly already visited the Cincinnati Bengals, and there have been reports saying the Oakland Raiders and St. Louis Rams have shown interest.

Porter, 25, has spent most of the past four seasons as a starter for the New Orleans Saints. But the Saints, who are dealing with a tight salary-cap situation, don’t appear to have a big interest in re-signing Porter.

They’re set with Jabari Greer as one starter, and the Saints have used draft picks on Patrick Robinson and Johnny Patrick the past two years.

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