Deke: Bobby and Hokie's key things to watch at Saints camp
by Deke Bellavia,posted Jul 24 2014 11:34AM
The team has arrived in West Virginia, and after they check in and go through a conditioning test, the Black and Gold will take the field at the Greenbrier.
There is excitement, optimism and high expectations for all 32 teams in the NFL right now, but realistically, there are the good teams, the bad teams, and the teams that have a chance to be great. Many national analysts are pegging the Saints to be one of a handful of teams that could become a great team this year.
After an 11-5 regular season in 2013 that saw the Saints win their first ever road playoff game, the Saints gave the eventual champion Seahawks a good fight, and expectations are higher in the Who Dat Nation then they have been in a while.
"The Saints are an elite team. Teams that are considered to be contenders year in and year out are elite. The Saints have been to the playoffs in four of the last five seasons, and that is in elite status," said the Cajun Cannon Bobby Hebert.
New Orleans has won 11 or more games in the regular season in four of the last five seasons. And the current Saints hype is not just about their offense; the Saints are bringing back a stout defense too.
"The turnaround last season speaks volumes! Just look at the numbers. The Saints D went from 32nd in 2012 to #4 in 2013. That was impressive," said Saints Color Analyst Hokie Gajan.
Our resident pros both like the idea of being away from home for training camp. "There are not as many outside distractions. Certain things that a player would have to deal with back home will not be affecting them while they are here," Gajan said.
Hokie told me that he's looking forward to seeing how much faster-paced the Saints will be in the first wave of camp. "They did some things during mini-camp and OTA's that they have not done so early in the past. Things are even faster now, and the goal is to get the best 53 players on the roster."
Hokie is also looking forward to seeing the action at the RB position. "They have a deep group. Pierre Thomas is a veteran player that has just about seen it all in seven seasons in the NFL. Mark Ingram finished the season better in 2013 then he has in the past. And Khiry Robinson was impressive last season when given the opportunity. Travaris Cadet makes the position an even tougher battle, and guys like Strozier (Derrick) and Flanders (Tim) have both looked good at practice."
When it comes to this time of year, there are many things that alway get Bobby's blood pumping, but none more so than when the Saints lines battle each other.
The Cajun Cannon says fans should keep an eye on the one-on-one pass rushing drills. The one-on-ones take place several times during camp and pits the offensive and defensive lines going against each other. "There will only be one day in which the team does goal-line work. And when they do, it's the most heated and intense part of training camp. I look forward to that each year!"
Bobby says he wants to see if Cam Jordan and Junior Gallette can pick up where they left off last season when they both recorded double-digit sacks. "I think that Akiem Hicks can take another step forward, and I'll be watching to see how Glenn Foster does this season after making a big splash with the Saints at camp a year ago."
Thursday July 24th: Saints Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis addresses the media at 4:45PM, followed by Coach Sean Payton at 5PM.
Friday July 25th: Saints practice at The Greenbrier 8:50AM-11:40AM / Walk through practice from 4:30PM-5:30PM.