The Saints defense had a dramatic turnaround last year. The league’s worst unit from 2012 ended 2013 as the 4th-best squad in the NFL. No such luck for cornerback Patrick Robinson though, his year was cut short in week 2 of the season in Tampa Bay.
Things sure didn’t look good for P-Rob, who was carted off the field. He had tears in his eyes, and you could almost feel his pain through the television. It would later be revealed that he suffered a season ending knee injury.
But now? “He’s moving around well and there’s some rust I’m sure he’s working through,” Coach Sean Payton said after Thursday's organized team activities. “His rehab has been real good and he’s worked real hard at it. He seems to be moving pretty fluidly, and I’m sure as he continues to do that and gets more comfortable with football movements, that will help. But he’s had a real good offseason with regards to his injury and how he has approached it.”
Robinson was selected with the Saints 1st round draft pick in 2010. That was the year following the glorious Super Bowl win over the Colts, so New Orleans had the very last pick in the first round. He proved to be a valuable special teams player in his rookie season and showed some improvement in his sophomore campaign, but 2012 wasn’t so pretty. Then again, who did have a good 2012 season under then defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo? 2013 was then a big year for P-Rob to prove himself. He posted a solid training camp and preseason, only to have it all end way too quickly.
“He’s still a young player that we’ve seen develop,” Payton added. “He’s someone that can run, we think has good instincts. We felt last offseason he did a lot of good things. He’s right there as one of the guys competing for playing time and for a spot at that corner position.”
The competition at the cornerback position is definitely one to keep a close eye on this coming training camp. Veteran Champ Bailey is the favorite to win the gig opposite Keenan Lewis, but you also have guys like Robinson, Corey White, rookie Stanley Jean-Baptiste and Rod Sweeting battling for playing time.
There’s no reason not to think Robinson could wind up on top of the heap. He’s got the height, speed and strength to be a #2 corner, as well as really good instincts. So far, he has played 44 games in his career and has totaled 141 tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble and 35 passes defended. He has also blocked 2 kicks and racked up 7 interceptions, including a pick vs. Mike Vick and the Eagles in 2012 that that he returned 99 yards to the house in the Superdome.
Robinson was working with the first team defense in Thursday's OTA, and looked good. He was running well with no brace and recovered a fumble created by Raphael Bush, who swiped the ball out of Marcus Colton’s hands.
Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan sure likes what he’s seen so far. “He’s a special athlete. A unique guy that can bend; for such a big corner he has natural bend,” Ryan said. “We think Patrick is going to be great for us; we know he will be”
The Pacers proved they weren’t dead yet pulling out a 93-90 win in game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals over the Heat, but the big (or just strange) story is Lance Stephenson’s new form of defense vs. Lebron James.
The Pacers guard blew in Lebron's ear! Stephenson has been trying to get inside of James’s head this entire series and apparently the only way to do so was too actually force his breath into the King’s noggin.
Laugh all you want, but it worked! James battled foul trouble all night long and finished with a playoff career low 7 points.
“All the extra stuff, whatever Lance wants to deal with, I don’t really care about that,” James said. “Lance is Lance. He’s going to do what he needs to do to help his team win.”
Could we see other player’s follow this new form of distracting a player? I sure hope not. Last thing I need to see is Anthony Davis blowing in Dirk Nowitzki’s ear.
Anyway, the Heat still own a 3-2 lead in the series and look to close things out on their home court tomorrow. Miami is looking to advance to the Finals for the 4th straight year.
How will Lebron respond Friday night? Will he have ear plugs?
Much of the anticipation leading up to Ben Grubb’s charity softball event was the burning question: would Drew Brees win back the title of “King Of Swing” in the homerun derby? Last year Brees was eliminated before even getting to the finals and back-up QB Luke McCown took home the trophy.
Brees made sure that wouldn’t happen again and the fierce competitor took home the title for the 3rd time in 4 years.
“Luke McCown has his trophy from last year literally right above his locker, so I had to stare at it every day and it just ate at me,” Brees said. “I said, as soon as we get this opportunity again, we were going to settle the score, I’m going to reclaim it. So, now I’m going to set mine next to his. I think this year’s trophy is a little bigger, so it is going to stand a little bit taller than his.”
As for action on the football field instead of the diamond, Brees was asked if he’s looking forward to the start of organized team activities which begin next week.
“Really excited, we’ve been working out in the weight room long enough and now it’s time to get to some actual football,” Brees responded. “Looking forward to diving back into the playbook and getting on the field and kind of seeing how some of these young guys, how they developed in the offseason. We’ve been able to spend some time together.”
Speaking of young guys, what does #9 think about his brand new target Brandin Cooks who was the teams 1st round draft pick?
“We traded up to get this guy, so that tells me a lot about how we feel about him,” said Drew. “Not only his talent and his skill set but also just the type of guy he is. From all accounts he’s just a phenomenal person, a great teammate, extremely tough work ethic and just a great character guy. Fits in perfect in our locker room and just loves football. We love those guys.”
Cooks will miss the start of OTAs to finish up the semester at Oregon State, but will join the team soon after. Another player that will not be on the practice field is Jimmy Graham. He will be holding out after the team placed the tight end franchise tag on him. Graham not only wants a long term deal but also is asking for top wide receiver, not tight end money.
Brees went through a similar situation back in 2012 dealing with a contract dispute and missed all of the team’s summer practices. He said the entire team understands that it’s just the nature of the business.
“It’s part of the process,” Brees sais. “It’s a leverage game and it’s back and forth. And the team has a job to do and the player has a job to do in regards to their contract. And so you just understand that that’s the way it is, and you live with it. And when he’s here, I know he’ll be ready to play. I know he’ll be staying in good shape and all those things. I’m not worried about Jimmy Graham. When he comes back, he’ll be ready.”
Former LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger has signed a 4 year deal with the Titans. Tennessee drafted the big 6 ft. 5, strong armed QB in the 6th round of the NFL draft.
Mettenberger's stock took a bit of a dip due to 1: tearing his ACL in the final game of the regular season. And 2: “failing” a drug test at the NFL combine. His urine sample came back as diluted and the league views that as a failed test.
While not at 100% currently, Mettenberger could legitimately challenge Jake Locker and Charlie Whitehurst for snaps with the Titans. Locker is in the 4th and final year of his rookie deal and has not lived up to being selected 8th overall in 2011. Another big strike against Locker, he is injury prone.
Whitehurst is well, Charlie Whitehurst. He came into the league in 2006 and has thrown 3 TDs in his career with 4 interceptions. 'Nuff said.
It would not surprise me one bit that with a strong training camp, Mettenberger could wind up being the Titans starting signal caller for week one of the season. Even if Locker keeps his starting gig, I foresee Mettenbegrer getting some time under center at some point during the season.
The Saints now have all but one of their 2014 draft picks singed to 4 year deals. 4th round selection Khairi Fortt is the lone rookie the Black & gold have not come to terms with yet.
The team announced on Sunday they inked 1st round draft pick Brandin Cooks. He is only the 3rd first round draft pick to have signed a contract. Reports are that is worth 8.3 million dollars with a 4.4 million dollar signing bonus. Cooks won the Biletnikoff Award last season as a junior for being the top receiver in the nation. He set Pac-12 records with 128 catches for 1,730 yards. Cooks also broke an Oregon State school record with 16 touchdowns receiving.
It seems as if the team has also signed 2 of the undrafted rookies that tried out over the weekend at minicamp. Both Tulane running back Derrick Strozier and Illinios wide receiver Steve Hull announced the news on twitter.
Strozier tweeted, "Just officially joined my bro @D_Walker_ as a member of the New Orleans Saints #Blessed #WhoDat." He played both cornerback running back for the Green Wave but opted to try out as a running back for the Saints. He is 5'8, 183 pounds and recorded 54 tackles, three interceptions and 14 pass breakups for Tulane last year. Strozier also scored two touchdowns and blocked two field goal attempts.
Hull tweeted, "Officially signed and became apart of the Saints roster earlier this afternoon.. Such a blessing. #WhoDat." He played his first 3 years at Illinios as a safety then converting to a wide receiver. He finished with 59 receptions, 993 yards and 7 touchdowns.
It was a surprise to many when Rutgers wide receiver Brandon Coleman was not among the 256 players drafted last week.
He received a 3rd NFL Draft Advisory Board after a breakout sophomore season (43 catches for 718 yards and 10 touchdowns) in 2012. He decided to return to school for his junior year. Coleman even started to generate 1st round buzz before a knee injury limited his production.
The 6-foot-6 225 pounder had 34 catches for 538 yards and four touchdowns last season as a junior and admitted that he was hampered by a torn meniscus in his right knee..
He looked OK at the NFL Combine though, running a 4.56 40-yard dash, which is a solid time considering his size.
Coleman also managed 21 bench press reps, but the knee injury that caused him to have a down year ultimately cost him. He went from being a mid-round projected pick to being an undrafted free agent.
After the draft, he garnered interest from the Patriots, Chargers, Rams and Saints.
He chose the Black & Gold because he felt comfortable when he had visited the team before the draft.
Saints Coach Sean Payton seemed to pay a little extra attention to Coleman during the portion of rookie camp the media got to watch on Saturday.
"He's just trying to help me get acclimated with the system and telling about certain routes, Coleman responded. "And how to have my body working through different routes and sinking my hips, things like that."
The big receiver is hoping to make an impression and get invited to training camp.
"There's pressure on both sides no matter how you look at it, whether you drafted or undrafted, Coleman said. "You just got to go out there and be confident in yourself and that's what I'm going to do."
Day 3 of the NFL is a wrap, and the Saints added 3 defensive players and an offensive lineman to the roster.
Khairi Fortt form California and Florida’s Ronald Powell join the Black and Gold’s group of linebackers. Also selected, Alabama safety Vinnie Sunseri and Kansas State offensive tackle Tavon Rooks.
What did the competition in the NFC South do?
Atlanta picked FSU RB, Devonta Freeman and Norte Dame OLB Prince Shembo in round 4. Purdue CB Ricardo Allen and ILB Marquis Spruill from Syracuse were taken in the 5th round. More defense in round 7 for the Dirty Birds as Connecticut ILB Yawin Smallwood & OLB Tyler Starr from South Dakota were scooped up.
Carolina snagged North Carolina SS Tre Boston is round 4. In the 5th San Jose State CB Bene Benwikere joined the Cats. Stanford RB Tyler Gaffney came off the board in round 6.
The Buccaneers got some offensive line help taking Tennessee State OG Kadeem Edwards and OT Kevin Pamphile in round 5. In the 6th round they snatched up Wyoming WR Robert Herron.
Taking a look at talent going to the pros from LA schools, some LSU Tigers are packing their bags for new cities. Round 5 saw ILB Lamin Barrow going to the Denver Broncos. QB Zach Mettenberger was selected in round 6 by the Tennessee Titans. RB Alfred Blue also was selected in round 6 going to the Houston Texans. A bit of a surprise was WR James Wright going in the 7th round to the Cincinnati Bengals. That made 9 Tigers taken in this year’s draft, tying a school record.
Meanwhile, Missouri outside linebacker Michael Sam gets to stay right at home. He was selected with the 249th overall pick in round 7 by the St Louis Rams. Right before the combine the SEC defensive player of the year announced that he was gay. There was a huge ovation a Radio City Music Hall, the site of the draft, when Sam was selected. He becomes the first openly gay player on the NFL.
There was a run on Bayou Bengals in rounds 2 and 3 of the 2014 NFL draft. Ego Ferguson, Jeremy Hill, Jarvis Landry and Trai Turner all have new homes.
Ferguson was surprisingly the first one off the board, going to the Chicago Bears at pick #51. Big bruising running back Jeremy Hill followed landing in Cincinnati with the Bengals with the 55th overall pick. Receiver Jarvis Landry’s wait ended late in round 2 going 63rd overall to the Miami Dolphins. The final Tiger drafted was offensive guard Trai Turner going to the Carolina panthers in round 3 with pick #92.
Some other notable selections were the Cowboys trading up in round 2 to snag LB Demarcus Lawrence. The Raiders used the 4th pick in the 2nd round to select QB Derek Carr. New England surprisingly drafted a QB in round 2 grabbing Jimmy Garoppolo. Center Marcus Martin was a player the Saints were interested in; he went to the 49ers in the 3rd round.
Meanwhile, another big need for the Saints was checked off when they selected Stanley Jean-Baptiste in round 2. He is still a raw talent, as he’s a former wide receiver and still learning the CB position. The positives are his size at 6 ft. 3, he can hang with those big wideouts in the NFL. Plus, as a former receiver he has great hands. I look forward to watching DC Rob Ryan mold this young talent.
No real surprise with the top overall pick as the Houston Texans held on to the #1 pick and selected South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney. The defensive end was hands down the most talented player in this year’s crop, the only question is his worth ethic and desire.
The Browns made some bold moves wheeling and dealing to land cornerback Justin Gilbert out of Oklahoma State with the 8th overall pick and then made a huge splash acquiring the 22nd overall pick to draft QB Johnny Manziel. Really smart move as Johnny Football now is also known as Johnny Cleveland. Can he be the franchise signal caller they’ve been desperately looking for?
We all expected LSUs Odell Beckham Jr. to be the first Tiger coming off the draft board and he wound up in the Big Apple going to the Giants at pick #12. Beckham joins fellow LSU WR Reuben Randle in NY.
Looking at what happened around the NFC South, the Falcons made a very safe pick drafting OT Jake Matthews 6th overall. The Saints Cam Jordan is already salivating of the thought of facing the rookie in week1:
The Buccaneers WR core just got a lot scarier. Tampa selected big Mike Evans out of Texas A&M with the 7th pick. Pairing him up with Vincent Jackson makes for quite the dynamic receiving duo.
And the Panthers made QB Cam Newton happy drafting WR Kelvin Benjamin out of Florida State at 28th overall. Really surprised they didn’t go for Marquise Lee instead. The USC receiver actually remains undrafted and will be a great value pick in day2.
As for the home team, the Saints are a big winner on the night. They traded up for the 20th overall pick to snag Oregon State WR Brandin Cooks. Fills a big need for the team as Cooks is the speedster they were lacking, plus can be a kick /punt returner on special team.
Tons of top talent remains on the board and it will be interesting to see what the Saints do. After the Cooks trade they just have a 2nd round pick currently to use on Friday. They’re 3rd rounder along with the 27th overall selection went to Arizona.
The NFL Network is reporting this morning that LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger has been red-flagged by several teams due to a back condition.
He has spondylolysis, which is a stress fracture in one of his vertebrae that make up the spinal column. If the condition eventually weakens the bone too much, surgery may become necessary. While it’s not an immediate issue, it is just another of many concerns that are piling up for the QB.
Mettenberger is already coming off a torn ACL, and it was recently revleaed that he produced a diluted urine sample for his drug test at the NFL Combine. His physical therapist claims it was the result of his attempts to stave off dehydration as he rehabbed from his surgery.
Per the therapist, Mettenberger was drinking over a gallon of water per day after "experiencing frequent muscle cramping." True or not, a diluted urine sample is a failed test in the eyes of the NFL.
With the draft kicking off tomorrow night, the latest knock on the signal caller certainly has his status as a Day 2 selection looking very shaky!
Draft week is finally here, Who Dats! While most folks were complaining about the event being later than usual this year, I was enjoying the first week of Jazz Fest for the first time in a long time, and of course, reading up and studying the Draft prospects even more. There’s lots of local flavor in my Saints mock. Here’s who I see the Black & Gold landing:
Pick 27: CORNERBACK KYLE FULLER VIRGINIA TECH
This 6 foot, 190 pound corner is a good cover man that is also aggressive enough to help out in run support. His physical style is a perfect fit for trying to mimic what Seattle secondary does. Is a bit lean, but plays a lot stronger then he looks. Rob Ryan could also find ways to use him in his multiple safety packages.
Pick 58: CENTER MARCUS MARTIN USC
Began his career as a guard and played center last year for the Trojans. At 6ft 3, 320 pounds Martin has the size to match-up with tackles and won’t easily get pushed around. I could see him starting week 1. He’d battle Tim Lelito for the gig.
Pick 91: WIDE RECIEVER JARVIS LANDRY LSU
Tiger fans rejoice as the Saints finally get a LSU player on the roster. Landry has big hands that cradle the football like a basinet holding a newborn; safe & secure. Would be drafted higher if not for his poor 40 times, but what really matters is what’s on film. Has “game speed” to be a very effective pro. Think Marcus Colston 2.0.
Pick 126: DEFENSVIE END JACKSON JEFFCOAT TEXAS
At 6 foot 3, 247 pounds many consider Jeffcoat a tweener, somewhere in-between a defensive end and an outside linebacker. While he doesn’t have elite skills, his drive makes him an attractive project for Rob Ryan to mold. Jeffcoat did earn Big 12 player of the year honors along with TCU CB Jason Verrett.
Pick 167: DEFENSIVE TACKLE JUSTIN ELLIS LOUISIANA TECH
This big DT (6ft1, 334 lbs) had a real good showing at the Shrine game and also at the Senior Bowl. Ellis could develop into a premium run stuffer. He has long arms and is surprisingly explosive to be handful as a pass rusher.
Pick 169: INSIDE LINEBACKER LAMIN BARROW LSU
Barrow is able to diagnose a play well and has good closing speed, but will need amp up his intensity level in the pros. Takes good angles though and always seems to be around the ball. Should be able to carve out a niche as a solid reserve and special teams player.
Pick 202: WIDE RECIEVER DEVIN STREET PITTSBURGH
Pitt’s all-time leading pass catcher is a really solid route runner with good hands that makes me believe he could develop into a solid possession receiver in the NFL. At 6 foot 3, 198 pounds; Street uses his length well but needs to develop some more physicality into game.
Time to take a look at some of the top linebackers and defensive backs in this year’s draft. I could see the Saints having interest in a number of these players with some being available when the Black and Gold first pick at 27th overall.
1. Khalil Mack 6ft2, 250lbs. Buffalo
This “Mack Daddy” can do it all, making plays in the backfield and can also drop back in coverage. Mack is a monster on the gridiron. Effort is not a concern either as he gives it his all on every play. Will quickly be a double-digits sack guy in the NFL
2. Anthony Barr 6ft4, 255lbs. UCLA
Barr is a physical player who enjoys dishing out punishing hits on the quarterback and is very explosive off the edge with phenomenal speed. He does need to work on his coverage skills as he was not asked much of him in college. Some are concern he lacks the ferocity to be a top notch defender.
3. C.J. Mosley 6ft2, 235lbs. Alabama
LSU fans know him well as the leader of Bama’s suffocating defense. A real tough guy who is athletic and keen instincts. Some are concerned over a knee injury, but there’s a lot to like here. Is always full speed, full-time.
4. Ryan Shazier 6ft1, 238lbs. Ohio State
Has really good instincts and the ability to cover a lot of ground quickly. Needs to bulk up a bit, but has the make-up to be a consistent impact player in the pros. Has a rare quality where it seems he was born with football already in him.
5. Kyle Van Noy 6ft3, 242lbs. BYU
A very disciplined player with great read and react skills. Good at defending the run, but excels in pass coverage. Love his mentality as a pass rusher. Always seems to be going for the strip sack. Can he do it consistently at the next level?
1. Justin Gilbert 6ft, 202lbs Oklahoma State
Has good height and speed with long arms that make him the top corner in this year’s class. Kid is bursting with natural talent and has high upside in the NFL. Adding to his value is the ability to be a return man on special team.
2. Darqueze Dennard 5ft11, 200lbs. Michigan State
Dennard may lack elite speed, but makes up for it with his good instincts and the ability to change direction smoothly. He is also a physical corner and very instinctive. Will need to become more disciplined about his contact though to avoid too many penalties.
3. Kyle Fuller 6ft, 192lbs. Virginia Tech
Has the ability to cover to go along with the aggressiveness to come up and play the run. Has sports hernia surgery in November but his stock has been rising since the NFL Combine surprising many with his speed. Has good coverage skills and leaping ability.
4. Jason Verrett 5ft9, 190lbs. TCU
May not have ideal height but sure can blanket an opposing receiver. Verrett has an aggressive approach to the game and is also physical. Only reason he isn’t ranked higher is due to his size. Played well against LSU in the season opener last year.
5. Bradley Roby 5ft11, 195lbs. Ohio State
He has the physical talent to be a #1 corner, but bad tape from last year is holding him back from being a sure fire first-round pick. So are his off the field issues. Just got in trouble LAST WEEK and has pleaded guilty to physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Making these kind of stupid decisions worry NFL GMs but I feel his talent may just be to good to let him slip out of round 1.
1. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix 6ft1, 210lbs. Alabama
A natural center fielder that can cover a ton of ground. Some feel his instincts and ability are better than his athleticism. I just see size, speed, aggression and ball skills of a kid poised to become a star in the NFL
2. Calvin Pryor 5ft11, 208lbs. Louisville
Can play in the box or drop in zone with his good speed and instincts. A devastating hitter that has the habit of creating turnovers. Has raw, relentless aggression you love in a defensive player.
3. Terrance Brooks 5ft11, 200lbs Florida State
Brooks is a former cornerback that can match-up well with slot receivers but is also an enforcer who can hot like a linebacker. Will instantly toughen up any defense. A lack of interceptions could cause him to dip into round 2.
4. Jimmie Ward 5ft11, 195lbs. Northern Illinois
Uses his speed and range to cover the deep part of the field. Ward always seems to always be in the right place which is a product of being a very smart player. Has good speed and toughness, only concern is his small frame.
5. Lamarcus Joyner 5ft8, 185lbs. Florida State
Joyner’s game could be compared to that of Tyrann Mathieu. Will likely be a hybrid defender in the NFL getting moved around from slot corner to safety. Also a good return man in the kicking game. He is a football junkie and has a good feel for the game.