by Matt Soltysiak
An 8-8 record is not what the Saints expected last season, especially considering the team put up more points than any other team in the NFL. The biggest move this off-season was the (not so unexpected) release of Deuce McAllister. Major injuries took a toll as he missed 28 games in the last four seasons alone. Also jettisoned was wide receiver David Patten.
In the draft the Saints focused on fixing their biggest weakness, the defense. All four of their draft picks were used on defense and special teams. With their first round pick they grabbed defensive back Malcolm Jenkins from Ohio State.
What to watch for in training camp
There’s no question that Drew Brees is the man throwing the ball, but just who will be catching those passes is still somewhat up in the air. Last year Lance Moore led the team with 79 catches, 928 yards and 10 touchdowns. It was the first monster season for this third year (undrafted) player. Their 2004 second round draft pick Devery Henderson only managed 32 catches, but had 793 yards (a career high). Of course there’s also Marques Colston, as injuries limited him to numbers nearly half of what he put up in 2007. I would expect Colston to return as the go to receiver, but the competition between Henderson and Moore could be interesting.
Running the ball will look a bit different in New Orleans this season. With McAllister gone (a positive for fantasy football owners), Pierre Thomas should have a much larger role. He ran for 629 yards and 10 touchdowns with just 129 carries in 2008. Let’s not forget the most explosive part of their backfield, Reggie Bush. He’s great with the ball, but staying healthy is an issue (he’s missed 10 games in the last two years). I’d expect Bush and Thomas to share time in the backfield with Thomas getting the goal line carries, but keep an eye on who ever wins the number three job as they could end up taking some carries away from Thomas.
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