A BIG Blow...
Literally and figuratively.
Hollis Thomas is gone for the rest of the regular season for violating the NFL steroid policy.
Outside of Drew Brees and maybe a couple of linebackers, this is the hardest blow this team could probably take. The reason is obvious for Brees. Lack of depth is the reason for the linebackers. And I think it's also this lack of depth that could hurt the Saints with this suspension.
Thomas has been having a great season. He's helped stop the run, and he's put pressure up the middle on opposing quarterbacks. He's the anchor in the trenches of a defense that (outside of Willie Parker) has done an above-average job of stopping opposing running backs. It's not a reach to say that he's the best all-around DT we've had since 2000 Norman Hand. Yes, LaRoi Glover was great, but he wasn't a run stopper too.
Now it's time for Antwan Lake, Rodney Leisle, and whomever else joins the DT rotation to step up. If the Saints can't stop the run up the middle anymore, it's going to be a LONG December.
But if Sean Payton can get a 7th-round rookie to replace Jammal Brown and not give up a sack to one of the NFL's best pass rushers, maybe he can get a replacement here too. The reason why the Saints have been successful now is because they're a TEAM.
Hollis Thomas' suspension will really put the "team" concept to the ultimate test.