Tuesday, 21 August 2012 11:08

Extra burden on New Orleans Saints, Brees without Payton, Vitt and linebackers

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Brees-panthersAs the fourth game of the pre-season approaches, it is obvious that the New Orleans Saints are short in man-power.  The two soft areas right now are linebacker and head coach.

Some of the plans to replace Jonathan Vilma with a strong set of replacements now need to be replaced.

Also, as the two losses in exhibition season has verified, the Saints can use all of the help it can get.  The abstract notion that the Saints will be without its head coach and its backup coach in Joe Vitt is now becoming more concrete.  The New Orleans Saints did not win all of its games and certainly did not win the really crucial games and that is when they were at full throttle.  Now, imagine the top two heads out of operation for the first part of the season due to suspensions and then the main cog being out for the entire year, Sean Payton, and what you have is a lack of not just hard bodies but gray matter up top.   

While it might be easy to bring in a free-agent or trade for a new player to back up a wounded warrior, the idea of installing a new coach for a sizeable part of the season to replace Vitt is almost nonsensical.



Everyone has been saying that Drew Brees needs to step up to replace those missing brains and he should.  But first, he needs to make sure he can step away from opponents defenders who are obviously going to gun for the highest paid football player in the league.  A miss block here and there which is what happened against the Jaguars can make it an extremely long season for the New Orleans Saints.  

 The Saints have serious depth issues at linebacker so they traded an undisclosed draft choice to the Seahawks for veteran linebacker Barrett Ruud, 29.

Saints starting linebackers Curtis Lofton and David Hawthorne are battling injuries that are expected to keep them out for the remainder of the preseason. Chris Chamberlain suffered a torn ACL during Friday's 27-24 loss to the Jaguars and was placed on injured reserve.

Ramon Humber had been scheduled to fill in for Lofton as the starting middle linebacker while Lofton is out, though Humber is suspended for the first three games of the regular season for violating NFL performance enhancing drug policy.

Ruud signed with Seattle in April, but became expendable when the Seahawks drafted Bobby Wagner. Ruud started nine games at middle linebacker for the Titans last season before a groin injury ended his season. He spent six seasons with the Buccaneers.

If Lofton (high ankle sprain) misses the season opener, Rudd would stand a good chance of starting. Hawthorne had surgery after he suffered a torn meniscus and likely will be out for the remainder of the preseason.

Ruud can't get to New Orleans soon enough because the Saints need help at linebacker heading into Week 1.

The Saints host the Houston Texans on Saturday night in a nation ally televised game.

The third (fourth for the Saints) is the most important since a number of starters won't play in the final preseason game.  This game should be the best barometer of what are the Saints' strengths and weaknesses.

NBA.com's prediction on how rookie Austin Rivers will do this season: "He will contribute 3’s off the bench immediately from the 25-foot range, but won't immediately provide over-all stats until he learns to run the team from the point. He needs to develop his finish in traffic. He has a nice long-term future in the league, but don't expect much more than the 3s until he gets to a starting role."...

Former Saint Steve Gleason is upset how HBO has characterized his reaction to Gregg Williams' speech, calling it the "misquote of the week." in an email sent to Pro Football Weekly.

"In my opinion, speeches like the one given by Gregg Williams are not the cause of increased rate of brain disease in the NFL population. The increased rate of brain disease in the NFL population is caused by the way the game is played within the rules."

According to Pro Football Talk.com, Gleason claims that HBO omits a key portion of his reaction in the subtitles included with the rough cut of the Real Sports interview that will air on Tuesday night.

His particular gripe is how his comments about the Saints defensive players' reaction to Williams' "Kill the head" speech before the Saints' playoff game last season against the 49ers was characterized.

"The real problem was no one seemed shocked," Gleason was quote previously. "There was no discussion of 'Wow, did we just hear that?"

LSU fell to No. 3 in the AP preseason poll because of the Honey Badger's dismissal. LSU's handling of the Tyrann Mathieu situation proved it's no Penn State...Kobe Bryant's wife, Vanessa, told New York Magazine, "I certainly would not want to be married to somebody who can't win championships." Translation: The knot we ain't tyin' if the trophy ain't O'Brien."...

 SOME hither, others yon: Ah, college football season is in the air. Can't you smell it -- the NCAA investigations,, the academic scandals, players getting kicked off the team for drugs and armed robbery? It's the most wonderful time of the year!...Seattle signed Terrell Owens after Seahawks coaches were concerned that the team lacked distractions...The Les Miles Show returns on Wednesday at 7 p.m. on the LSU Sports Radio Network (WWL 870). The one-hour radio show devoted to LSU football is held each week throughout the season at TJ Ribs in Baton Rouge...

by Ed Staton and Bayoubuzz Staff

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Ed Staton

Ed Staton is a former sports writer for the Times Picayune and New Orleans States Item.  He also served as the New Orleans Saints Information Director.  He has won 43 media awards in writing, design and photography.  


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