Fitch Is Back, and So Are the Saints
It's been a while since you've heard from me. I've been out the loop, meaning I haven't had the time or expertise to talk about all things associated with America's increasing indifference toward the Great City of New Orleans.
But the Saints are back in the news, and that makes me happy for the first time in months, it seems. So let's take some time to look at what has happened pre-draft during the offseason, shall we?
From all accounts, especially today (4/26/07), it's looking good.
QUARTERBACK: No change
STARTER: Drew Brees
BACKUPS: Martin, Fife
COMMENTS: Not many. Brees will be ready for the season. There's a chance that they draft a QB of the future, unless they're convinced that Fife has a shot at being a good NFL backup.
RUNNING BACK: No change
STARTER: Deuce McAllister/Reggie Bush and Mike Karney
BACKUPS: Stecker, Branch, FB t.b.a.
COMMENTS: The biggest question in training camp is if Jamal Branch beats out Aaron Stecker and makes the 53-man roster this year
WIDE RECEIVER: Joe Horn gone, David Patten signed
STARTERS: Marques Colston, Terrance Copper
BACKUPS: Henderson, Patten, Jones, Lewis, Moore
COMMENTS: A lot of people think they're going to pick a WR on the first day of the draft. Maybe. I think they won't miss Horn that much. He didn't contribute after November last year, and they really didn't miss it. I think Patten will be a good backup. He and Payton were together in New York for one year. I think Michael Lewis may be done, and that the Saints will look for a return man to replace him.
TIGHT END: Ernie Conwell gone, Eric Johnson signed
STARTER: Mark Campbell
BACKUPS: Johnson, Miller
COMMENTS: The Saints may have finally found a pass-receiving TE in Eric Johnson. But if you thought Ernie Conwell was injury prone.... It's also a popular notion that they will go with a TE in the draft, perhaps early.
OFFENSIVE LINE: Backup OL Montrae Holland gone
STARTERS: Brown, Stinchcomb, Nesbit, Evans, Faine
BACKUPS: Strief, Petitti, Goodwin, OL t.b.a.
COMMENTS: Not much change here. The Saints made a key move keeping Jon Stinchcomb. Holland probably won't be missed, and he will be replaced by one of the no-names signed during the off-season or by a rookie.
DEFENSIVE LINE: No major changes
STARTERS: Charles Grant (DE), Will Smith (DE), Hollis Thomas (DT), Brian Young (DT)
BACKUPS: Whitehead, Ninkovich, Leisle, Lake
COMMENTS: Re-signing Hollis Thomas was huge. But they still need one more better guy to bring in to the DT rotation, in my opinion. Charles Grant just signed on long-term too. So that means that the DE position remains rock solid. Hopefully Grant will play worth the money he is getting.
LINEBACKER: Danny Clark and Terence Melton gone, Brian Simmons, Troy Evans and Trev Faulk signed
STARTERS: Fujita, Simmons, Shanle
BACKUPS: Simoneau, Evans, Faulk, Fincher
COMMENTS: Simmons should be an improvement in the middle for the Saints. It also gives the Saints a quality backup in Simoneau who knows the defense. Troy evans and Trev Faulk are probably going to replace Melton as key special teams guys. Fincher is on the serious bubble, and there's a chance that another linebacker could be drafted.
DEFENSIVE BACK: Omar Stoutmire and Curtis DeLoatch gone, Kevin Kaesviharn and Jason David signed
STARTERS: Jason David (CB), Mike McKenzie (CB), Roman Harper (S), Josh Bullocks (S)
BACKUPS: Thomas, Craft, Kaesviharn, Bellamy, Gleason
COMMENTS: Thank God the Saints were able to sign Jason David at the last minute. That means that Fred Thomas drops to nickel back, where he belongs. Kaesviharn could start at safety if Harper isn't ready or if Bullocks has a bad pre-season. I'm still hoping (praying) that another CB or two are brought in to compete.
SPECIAL TEAMS: John Carney and Billy Cundiff gone, Olindo Mare acquired via trade
STARTERS: Steve Weatherford (P), Olindo Mare (K), Kevin Houser (LS)
COMMENTS: It's disappointing to see John Carney gone. But he's getting too old, and the team has no faith in him to make a long kick or kick off, so maybe it's time. The problem here is that Olindo Mare hasn't been as good lately as he once was. Hopefully he'll do better kicking indoors. And he's certainly a better kickoff option than anything the Saints had before. The only other question: can Mitch Berger come back and beat out Steve Weatherford. My gut instinct is "no."
So that's it for now. We'll see you during or after the draft.