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Positions of Concern for the Saints

The Saints are emerging as a team that people shouldn't sleep on this season, but some of that will hinge on positions that we still have some questions.

The Saints are still a long ways out from training camp starting, but they're starting to get some more attention after what they did in the draft and especially after landing Tyrann Mathieu. Defensively, New Orleans is pretty set. There are a few things to sort out, but most of the concerns for this year's squad centers around offense. Here's where we have some question marks going into the new season.

Tight End

The Saints have eight tight ends on the roster after adding Lucas Krull through the undrafted process. That includes Taysom Hill, Nick Vannett, Adam Trautman, Juwan Johnson, J.P. Holtz, Dylan Soehner, and Ethan Wolf. Holtz was added in free agency after spending time with the Bears.

On paper, this group looks underwhelming and raises a lot of questions. Sure, there's potential there, but they are going to have to really turn it up over the next few months. Last year saw a very disappointing campaign from Trautman, while Vannett's addition from free agency led to him appearing in just 7 games. Johnson wasn't used quite enough (26% offensive snaps) despite appearing in 14 games.

Is this enough for Jameis Winston to do his thing? Getting Chris Olave to pair with Michael Thomas will certainly help, and naturally free agents like Jarvis Landry are still out there if they want to look that way for their receiving corps. Hopefully, the tight end group can rebound and live up to some lofty expectations.

New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara (41)

Running Back

The Saints reportedly had interest in Sony Michel, but he signed with Dolphins on Monday. A lot of the concerns stem from how things play out with the legal proceedings from Alvin Kamara's February arrest. The hearing has already been postponed a couple of times, but is set for Aug. 1 now. Even if this goes in favor of Kamara, he can still face league discipline, but given the track history of how swiftly the league moves here, that may be later in the season.

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For now, New Orleans is operating under the assumption that Kamara will be their Week 1 guy with Mark Ingram being his backup. Ingram turns 33 in December, and should still have some gas left in the tank this season.

Tony Jones Jr., Dwayne Washington, Josh Adams, and Abram Smith will be fighting things out for the other two spots, but don't overlook the Saints waiting and then adding a veteran player during training camp like they did Devonta Freeman last year.

Offensive Line

Left tackle will feature a battle between veteran James Hurst and rookie Trevor Penning. Hurst is going to be in a spot where it's his job to lose, as Penning has a ton of upside, but does need to polish a few elements in his game to become the team's blindside protector for Winston. Either way, you have to feel better about that spot, but the big concern is on the interior.

Guards Andrus Peat and Cesar Ruiz are where the opportunity lies. Ruiz is in desperate need of improvement, while Peat has never played in a full season since being drafted in 2015. Over the past two seasons, he's missed 14 out of 33 games. Perhaps Doug Marrone can have a big impact on Ruiz's development, but the depth behind these two will be key. 

Calvin Throckmorton stepped up in a big way to start for Peat last season as an undrafted rookie, and held his own for the most part. It'll be interesting to see if he can push for a starting spot. Forrest Lamp and undrafted rookies Eric Wilson (Penn State) and Lewis Kidd (Montana State) are the current options on the depth chart, and others could swap inside as camp moves along. 

The offensive line was a real sore spot in training camp last season, as it was just hard to watch at times. The best-laid plans could work for New Orleans, but history has shown us that they have to have solid backup plans.


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