Saints enter first training camp of the post-Brees era
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (13-5)
CAMP SITE: Metairie, Louisiana
LAST YEAR: In the final season of quarterback Drew Brees’ 20-year, record-setting career, and with considerable help from versatile running back Alvin Kamara and the NFL’s fourth-ranked defense, the Saints made the playoffs as a No. 2 seed in the NFC. They won a postseason game before being upended in the divisional round by eventual Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay.
IMPORTANT ADDITIONS: TE Nick Vannett, DE Tanoh Kpassagnon, DE Payton Turner, LB Pete Warner, CB Paulson Adebo.
IMPORTANT LOSSES: QB Drew Brees, DE Trey Hendrickson, CB Janoris Jenkins, DT Sheldon Rankins, DT Malcom Brown, WR Emmanuel Sanders, LB Alex Anzalone, TE Jared Cook, TE Josh Hill, LB Kwon Alexander.
CAMP NEEDS: Turner, Warner and Adebo, the club’s top three draft choices, enter camp with chances to compete for significant playing time. If they catch on quickly, it could shore up some of New Orleans’ depth concerns. Meanwhile, second-year tight end Adam Trautman, who began to produce late last season, will have an opportunity to start following the departures top 2020 tight ends Cook and Hill. The Saints also want to identify a reliable third receiver behind veterans Michael Thomas and Tre’Quan Smith.
KEY CAMP COMPETITIONS: QBs Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill will vie to replace Brees under center. New Orleans also needs to settle on a No. 2 cornerback opposite Marshon Lattimore and sort out its interior defensive line. New Orleans will be missing not just Rankins and Brown at defensive tackle, but their top remaining player at that spot, David Onyemata. He will be suspended the first six games for violating the NFL’s performance enhancing drug policy.
EXPECTATIONS: The Saints still have numerous returning players who were major contributors to playoff runs in each of the past four seasons, but uncertainty at QB and at several key spots on defense have left the club with far less depth. New Orleans might still be a playoff team, but will need good fortune with injuries and with the development of young players to be a threat to advance deep into the postseason.
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