We’ve spent the last two weeks outlining what to watch for during Saints Training Camp, but if you can’t be bothered to read all 10 pieces here’s a look at the top five position battles heading into camp.
Lewis is the clear number one corner, but there’s some debate to who will start out wide on the opposite side of the field. Many fans feel like veteran Champ Bailey was brought in to be that guy despite his decline in productivity over the last few years. Bailey is a first ballot Hall of Famer, and if it ends up being him Week 1 I think Saints fans have to feel good about that – it would likely mean that he showed in Training Camp that he’s still a viable NFL starting cornerback. However, the often-maligned Patrick Robinson and even potentially rookie Stanley Jean-Baptiste could put pressure on Bailey during camp (Corey White is penciled in as the nickel corner and will likely not compete for the starting job out wide). At the end of preseason, I fully expect to see Bailey starting in Week 1.
The Saints have a few decisions to make at the running back position during camp, and one of them is who will be in the backfield when Week 1 kicks off in Atlanta.
Mark Ingram showed tremendous promise late in the season last year (especially in the playoffs), and this may be his final year to prove to the Saints that they didn’t waste a first round pick on him. Pierre Thomas has been the most consistent back the Saints have, and though there’s a ceiling on what he can provide the offense he’s certainly the best pass protector of the group.
Then there’s the lightning rod Khiry Robinson. The kid is pure energy, and he’s on a lot of fantasy football player’s radars as a potential late-round sleeper. Although I do expect Robinson’s productivity to increase with his touches, I don’t expect Payton to name him the out-and-out starter.
So it’s going to come down to which guy (Ingram or Thomas) has the better camp, and I personally think this is the year Ingram officially breaks out. He may not be a Pro Bowler, but I believe he’ll certainly put to bed all the bust talk.