Week 2 and a chance to not only go 2-0 on the season but also the division as the Saints hit the road to tussle with Tampa. The Bucs will be out for blood since they lost their season opener and were swept by the Black and Gold last season. Here are a few players I’m taking an extra-long look at in this match-up:
RB PIERRE THOMAS
The ground game struggled in the Saints’ win over Atlanta gaining just 2.7 yards per carry. You can’t blame the PT Bruiser though, as he averaged 4.8 YPC unlike Sproles (2.8) and Ingram (1.2).
I said it last week, and continue to preach, that Thomas should be the Saints’ top option in the backfield. PT is great at following his blocks and always seems to get that extra yard.
Thomas has done well in his career against Tampa amassing 7 touchdowns and over 5 yards a carry along with 12 yards per reception in 8 career games. Get him the damn ball!
NT JOHN JENKINS
The rookie was thrust into more playing time last week when Brodrick Bunkley went down with a leg injury and did a great job. The nose tackle helped the Saints D by occupying 2 or 3 offensive linemen, which allowed others to get to Flacons QB Meg Ryan…I mean Matt Ryan.
The Bucs O-line surrendered 3 sacks last week and could be without big money guard Carl Nicks again. The former Saint is suffering from a staph infection in his toe. I’m anxious to see if Jenkins can handle the increased workload for a 2nd straight game.
LB PARYS HARALSON
I was really surprised by the linebacker’s production in week 1. Haralson was acquired via trade with the 49ers on August 26th and after a short week of practice with the Saints contributed with a sack and a QB hurry.
He fell down San Fran’s depth chart after missing all of last season with a triceps tear, and was picked up by a desperate Saints team following the loss of Will Smith for the season. Can Haralson rebound to 2008 form, a year in which he recorded 8 sacks? That may be a stretch, but the 29-year-old still looks to have plenty left in the tank.
QB JOSH FREEMAN
To me, Mr. Inconsistent is the one thing holding this Tampa team from being more of a force in the division. Sure the QB looks great at 6 ft. 6, 240 pounds…mobile, strong arm, but accuracy is an issue. We saw his interception total jump from 6 to 22 in 2010 to 2011. Last year that total went down slightly to 17.
The last time these 2 teams met, Freeman threw four interceptions in a 41-0 loss against the league’s worst defense. In his career against the Saints, the 25-year-old has a record of 3-5 and has tossed 10 scores with 9 picks. The new-look “Fleur De Lis D” might have a field day against him this Sunday.
RB DOUG MARTIN
The Jets made it their top priority to contain the running back, and they managed to do a really good job. The Pro Bowler was held to just 65 yards on 24 carries.
Against the Saint last season in his rookie year, Martin totaled 101 yards rushing in 2 games with 1 TD while adding 79 yards receiving. Look for the Saints to follow the J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS model and stack the box daring Tampa to throw the ball.
CB DARELLE REVIS
The Bucs acquired Revis for match-ups like this one. When healthy he is arguably the best defensive player in the NFL and looked just fine in week 1 as he continues his road back from a torn ACL. The shutdown corner finished with two pass breakups, and the only receptions he allowed came as a result of a teammate blocking him out of the play.
We’ll see if Payton and Brees decide to challenge “Revis Island” or if they’ll stay away from him completely. The Saints have plenty of options in the passing game though and Revis can’t cover everyone.
Man, do I ever agree with you in re P.T.! Mr.Sproles is a great situational player. If a third is needed, I pray they let Khiry Robinson have a crack at it. As for the Heisman winner, let him go home and polish his trophy! Wish we would trade him whilewe might still be able to get a mid-round draft pick for him!
Easy El (Elliott)
We need another complementary back to Pierre, I'm sorry to say that Ingram hasn't proven to be the man.