No more beating up on each other. Now it gets real for any player trying to land on the Saints roster.
Before the preseason games begin in Canton, here's what I've learned about the team thus far.
1.) Nickel CB: This has become THE battle of the training camp. With Jabari Greer and Patrick Robinson both sidelined, Corey White, Johnny Patrick and Marquis Johnson have all gotten significant first team reps. All three have made plays. I agree with most of my colleagues that say Patrick has had a great camp. He has a knack for big plays with interceptions and big hits, but I've noticed a couple of times where he's been susceptible to getting beat. Johnson hasn't made as many big plays but he's been steadier. He's constantly in position to make a play and has had several pass break ups, but not nearly the amount of interceptions. I'd give Johnson the slight edge.
2.) 4th WR:The second best battle of training camp. Adrian Arrington, Joe Morgan and Nick Toon have all had solid camps. But the leader to replace Robert Meachem in my opinion is Arrington. He's catching the ball consistently and seems more comfortable in the offense. Morgan has had a few WOW moments with spectacular catches and can play special teams. But he's also been inconsistent at times with a few drops. Toon began camp with some jitters but started to come around last week. His injury will be a setback but only a slight one. The Saints have cut draft picks before but I highly doubt that would happen here. I think all three should make this roster but the only way they do is if they keep six wide receivers.
3.) Kicker: I'm not sure which way the Saints are going to go here. Both have looked extremely sharp. John Kasay has made all of his kicks; Garrett Hartley has made all but two. I know all decisions are made on the field, but unless Hartley completely tanks it in preseason games, I can't see the Saints cutting him in favor of the 42-year old Kasay. I guess we'll know soon enough.
I thought this was the right move before camp but after watching Wilson thus far I'm convinced he can be a big-time playmaker. This is my fifth year covering Saints training camp and he is without question the most explosive off the edge I've seen in that time span. I was sold when he blew past Jermon Bushrod before Bushrod could even get out of his stance. Wilson would've had a few sacks had they been allowed to tackle the quarterback. He's not a starter yet, but the Saints would be foolish to keep him off the field during passing situations.
- I thought the linebacker competition would be one of camp's best but it's been fairly boring to date. Maybe things will heat up as the preseason goes on but all camp long the first team has been Curtis Lofton at middle, David Hawthorne at weakside and Scott Shanle at strongside.
- Wide receiver Andy Tanner won't make the team but he's had a great camp.
- If the Saints go six wide receivers as I suggested above, the odd man out will likely be Courtney Roby.
- Before he got hurt, Patrick Robinson was the breakout star of training camp.
- The money has not gone to Thomas Morstead's head. He was booming punts and has yet landed a kickoff before the end zone. Money well spent.
- Mark Ingram is back and healthy. To stay that way, I think he needs to tweak his style. Ingram is not a blazing speed back, nor a true power back. But he's quick between tackles with a more slashing style. I think ultimately this is the niche he will fall into.
- With one practice a day, this is the easiest camp I've ever covered as a media member. I know the players agree. Hopefully they reap the benefits in December and January.
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