The New Orleans Saints finished OTAs last week. Even from minimum access that OTAs provied, we have learned a lot about this year’s Saints team, and the personnel that make it up. One of the biggest headlines everyone is looking at is what the defense is going to look like and who will start where. A defense that has struggled in years past, will look to rebound with new draftee recruits, and build on the progress from last year. There’s no way we will be able to tell just how much they improve until training camp rolls around and they put the pads on.
First off, everyone is obviously looking at Adrian Peterson. Peterson is getting first team reps so far in OTAs with the absence of Mark Ingram. So far the team has nothing but praise for the future hall of famer. Drew Brees praised Peterson’s work ethic and how well in shape he looks. Kenny Vaccaro also said that it looks like he hasn’t lost a step. Many other Saints were amazed how great Peterson has looked in OTAs. One of the bigger questions now is how much juice he actually has and the answer to that question will become more evident later on in the process. Either way, this is a fantastic start, and the start that Peterson and the Saints both needed.
Another eye opener at OTAs was the secondary. If it stays healthy, it could be drastically better than last season. Even though we don’t know who is starting where exactly, this is the deepest cornerback group the Saints have had in awhile. The fight for a spot will be a battle throughout the secondary core. Marshon Lattimore and Delvin Breaux lead the way and then PJ Williams looks to follow them. The Saints have many skilled cornerbacks on the team right now o everyone will have to fight for their job and playing time.
The defensive line for the Saints has been another focus point for the offseason. They addressed the defensive end position by signing Alex Okafor from Arizona who played his college days at texas with saints safety Kenny Vaccaro. The defensive line was starting to look as though it could be solid until we found out the awful news about Nick Fairley. Fairley was not present at any OTAs and it was unclear why. Sources said fellow defensive lineman tried to reach out to Fairley but they failed to. On Saturday, June 3rd, it was reported that Fairley has a career threatening heart condition. This condition was first found in his pre-draft physical. Right now we don’t have enough information to determine his availability this season. If Fairley were to miss any time at all it would be a big blow for the saints pass rush. More on Fairley’s availability and health will come with time.
On a positive note the offense acquisitions this offseason have so far impressed. Drew Brees was amazed on Ted Ginn Jr’s speed and versatility. A last year signee Coby Fleener says he’s ready to have a breakout year because his comfort in the offense this season. Fleener also fought through a minor injury last season. Larry Warford, a guard formerly for the Lions the saints signed said he’s picking up the playbook really well. Warford said he loves working with veteran right tackle Zach Strief, Warford called him “Yoda” because of his knowledge of the game.
The OTAs have showed us quite a bit already, and more of these issues, and unsolved questions, will be answered in the days to come.