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Steve Geller

"WWL First News" Sports Anchor
Weekdays 5am-10am

"Sports Talk" Producer
Weekdays 4pm-8pm

Twitter: @stevegellerWWL
Email: steve@wwl.com

Steve: Saints 1st-rounders primed for sophomore surge

In last year’s draft, the Saints selected Cal defensive end Cameron Jordan with the 24th overall pick, and then traded back into the first round to nab Alabama Heisman-winning running back Mark Ingram with pick number 28.  

At the time, some national analysts questioned New Orleans’ selection of Ingram, saying the team had a crowded backfield and considered it a waste of a first round pick.

However, if you really stopped to take a look at things from the Saints’ point of view, you would see that they didn’t want to end up in a situation like 2010 when the team was down to their 4th string running back (Julius Jones) come playoff time.  

Still, Ingram had a rocky rookie season, as he struggled with injuries.  He played in 10 games, missing the final 4 and the playoffs.  Ingram carried the ball 122 times, averaging 3.9 yards per carry while finding the end zone 5 times.  He definitely didn’t live up to the hype of being a first rounder and questions about if he can remain healthy now overshadow his talent.  

The loaded stable of RBs (Pierre Thomas, Darren Sproles & Chris Ivory) will only help the durability issue because Ingram won’t be asked or needed to shoulder a heavy workload.  Don’t get me wrong, the 22-year-old has the quickness, vision and power to be any every-down back, but the beautiful thing about being in New Orleans is that he doesn’t have to be.   If he CAN stay on the field, Ingram will be the most improved Saint in 2012. Assistant coach Joe Vitt said that they will monitor him closely this training camp after he had his knee scooped this summer.

Cam Jordan played in every game during his rookie campaign and had a solid season.  Now, if you look at his stats, the only thing that stands out to you is a negative…one sack.  

But the Saints drafted him to primarily be a run defender, and he did that very well, especially towards the end of the season.  I can recall many times where he was able to seal the edge, shed a blocker and make an open-field tackle on the ball carrier. ProFootballFocus ranked him as one of the 10 best run-stopping 4-3 defensive ends in the league.
Now in Jordan’s second year enters new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.

Coach Spags has a past of working with high-potential players and making them better. While with the New York Giants, he coached the likes of Michael Strahan, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora and helped with the development of Chris Long during his tenure as the St. Louis Rams head coach.

I have no doubt Spagnuolo will have a huge positive influence on Jordan. I don’t expect to see 16 or 17 sacks in one year, but I do believe that he could get close to 10 a season with Coach Spags now running the defense.

Coach Spagnuolo typically runs a scheme that requires pressure from his four down linemen and nothing but coverage from his defensive backs.  Jordan will immediately be expected to do more, and this should help him progress very quickly. It will now be a requirement for him to get constant pressure on the opposing quarterbacks.

He will also benefit from the great coverage we will see from the Saints' secondary and athletic corps of linebackers.

Instead of having six or seven guys blitzing on each play, we will see four linemen rush and the other seven players drop back into coverage or help in run support. This will be beneficial because the quarterback may have nowhere to go with the ball, thus resulting in a coverage sack

It’s no secret the defensive front has been a weakness for the Saints for a while now.  Jordan, along with the help of Coach Spagnuolo, has a chance to change that this season.

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Topics : Sports
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Locations : New Orleans
People : Cam JordanCameron JordanChris IvoryChris LongDarren SprolesJoe VittJulius JonesJustin TuckMark IngramMichael StrahanOsi UmenyioraPierre ThomasSteve Spagnuolo

07/25/2012 9:25AM
Steve: Saints 1st-rounders primed for sophomore surge
Please Enter Your Comments Below
07/25/2012 8:01PM
Rod Guidry in Sacramento
It is time for Cameron and Mark to show why they are 1st round NFL picks of our beloved New Orleans Saints. I would also add 3rd rounder Martez. I think he will be another 3rd rounder to make a major jump in his second year with the Saints. Just think these played OK and we won 14 games last year. Looks like it could be a 17 games won counting the Superbowl win.
07/25/2012 8:12PM
Rod in Sacramento
We need these guys to playout since the Dictator Goodell took away our 2nd rounders. My prayer is that some of these other rookies will be like number one draft picks, to make up for the suspension picks.
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