Nick, it’s finally here! Only a few more days to wait before the Saints’ regular season kicks off, and I was wondering who you think will be the single most important player in this Sunday’s game in Atlanta? – Who Dat Willy, Westlake
Willy, that’s a tough question. Since 22 players (at least) have an impact on each game, narrowing it down to just one person that will be the ‘most important’ is almost foolish. But let’s take a stab at trying to identify which guy is poised to dominate specifically against Atlanta.
Last year, the Falcon’s defense allowed the second most rushing yards in the entire NFL (2,173). Sean Weatherspoon – arguably their best linebacker – is once again going to miss an extended amount of time with an injury. Their defensive line stayed relatively the same – minus new addition Tyson Jackson, who totaled 25 tackles last year and has never had more than 37 tackles in a single season. The only legitimate threat in the middle of their defense is Paul Worrilow, and he is only a second year player coming off an impressive rookie season.
To that end, my choice for ‘most important player’ is a guy I’ve been harping on all offseason: Mark Ingram.
Watching Ingram run throughout camp and the preseason has a different feel this year than in years past. He just seems crisper, more refined – and I think this is the year he finally returns to his Alabama form (or at least something serviceable).
In Week 1 the Saints are going to try and establish the run and dictate the tempo of this game early, and I believe they’ll use Ingram to do that. By the end of the afternoon I have a sneaking suspicion he’ll be over total yards on somewhere between 20 and 25 touches. And if he can accomplish that, I have no doubt the Saints will leave Atlanta victorious.