Mark Ingram on Saturday showed he can play a big part in the New Orleans Saints' passing game. The fifth-year NFL running back caught the first two pass attempts from Drew Brees and gained 11 yards on the first play, and 29 on the next.
The 25-year-old Ingram said Sunday he always had the hands and route-running ability but "I really wasn't asked to do it much early in my career, when we had (Darren) Sproles, Pierre (Thomas)."
With running back C.J. Spiller reportedly having undergone arthroscopic knee surgery to keep him out of practice, Ingram has received more chances to catch passes. Ingram in 2014 set career highs in rushing and receiving marks, with 226 carries for 964 yards and nine touchdowns, and 29 catches for 145 yards, the story said. The Saints won't be able to throw to Spiller every time he's on the field, so changing things up will be key to the Saints passing success. With Ingram a threat to catch passes, it will only keep defenses on their toes and it could be a nice bonus for fantasy owners.
With the Jimmy Graham trade, the door was open for Hill to emerge for the Saints, but it appears that Watson will be the guy to start the season. Hill only played 288 snaps in 2014, but still managed to catch 14 passes for 176 yards and five touchdowns on just 20 targets. That was the 5th-highest fantasy points per snap at his position. HC Sean Payton has spoke highly of Hill, but referred to “two-TE sets” when discussing Hill’s potential playing time. This indicates that he may not be on the field in one-TE sets. Hill is still an interesting prospect in case the 34-year-old Watson goes down with an injury. His value would explode in starter's snaps.
Monday, August 10, 2015, 5:33pm
The Saints announced their first depth chart:
There weren't a lot of surprises according to the author, except that some of the team's younger WRs were listed ahead of veterans. But it's been pretty clear the team is going with a youth movement at the position, so Brandon Coleman, who could end up as the team's WR3, and Seantavius Jones were ahead of guys like Joseph Morgan and Josh Morgan.
Saints beat writer Larry Holder:
Production-wise, Ben Watson received plenty more opportunities in the passing game even when Josh Hill was healthy. Watson could easily become the main option for Drew Brees with Hill playing more of a second tight end role.
Where Watson stood out Wednesday was in individual drills. The 34-year-old tight end carved up anyone defending him. Hau'oli Kikaha, Jamarca Sanford and even Kenny Vaccaro found all kinds issues stopping Watson from catching passes.
I wrote this about two months ago and I'm doing it again Wednesday: don't sleep on Watson.
With the Jimmy Graham trade, the door is wide open for Hill to emerge for the Saints. He only played 288 snaps in 2014, but still managed to catch 14 passes for 176 yards and five touchdowns on just 20 targets. That was the 5th-highest fantasy points per snap at his position. The Saints are showing a lot of confidence in Hill by not doing much of anything to shore up the position this offseason, so he should be one of the hottest sleepers heading into draft season. Our only concern is that he doesn’t play ahead of Watson on early downs, which would limit his upside. HC Sean Payton has spoke highly of Hill, but referred to “two-TE sets” when discussing Hill’s potential playing time. This indicates that he may not be on the field in one-TE sets. If that's the case, Watson may be the sleeper tight end to own in New Orleans.
Saturday, July 4, 2015, 12:31pm
In each three-year span, Brees attempted exactly 35 passes of that distance. From 2009-11, he completed just seven of them for a total of 356 yards, three touchdowns and five interceptions. From 2012-14, he completed 15 of them for 773 yards, seven TDs and zero INTs. He was 5-of-12 last season, 5-of-12 in 2013 and 5-of-11 in 2012.
The author went on to say the Saints' downfield passing game has been on a downward trend overall. Brees completed just 28 of 63 passes last season that traveled 20-plus yards in the air (44.4 percent) for 965 yards, seven touchdowns and five interceptions. Those are Brees' lowest yardage and TD totals since 2007. Brees had similar numbers in 2010 and 2012, though -- and much worse numbers in 2007. So those downfield passing numbers are generally tied to overall offensive efficiency. Brees' arm strength doesn't really seem to be an issue here. Brees' ADP has slipped this year. He's ranked fifth among our QBs but he's sticking around until the 7th round in 10-team leagues.
Saints HC Sean Payton indicated that he is experimenting with plays specifically with C.J. Spiller in mind.
"When you sign a player like that ... you are anxious to see how it fits with what you are doing and you begin to expand some things," Payton said.
Quarterback Drew Brees said he envisioned plenty of snaps for Spiller, not only because of his explosiveness, but also because at 5-foot-11, 200 pounds, he's sturdy enough to run inside and even block in pass protection, as former Saints running back Pierre Thomas did.
"He's got some of the quickness and the speed and kind of that slash element like a Sproles," Brees said of Spiller. "But he's bigger in stature like a Pierre, and so there's really not anything he can't do."
While New Orleans may not be an ideal landing spot in the carries department, Spiller should have a big role in the passing game with Pierre Thomas, Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills no longer on the roster. He’ll likely take over the role of Thomas, who averaged 11.6 touches in the last two seasons. Thomas finished with a top 30 PPG (PPR) in six of the last seven seasons, so that's a reasonable baseline for Spiller. New Orleans running backs caught 275 passes in the last two seasons, so there are plenty of catches to go around. In short, he has significant PPR upside in this offense, but his workload will be somewhat limited since he'll be part of a committee.
Drew Brees and Keenan Lewis use the phrase "night and day" to describe the difference in Brandon Coleman's play from last year to this year. The 6-foot-6 wideout is becoming more than just a big body as he's far more reliable catching the football and knowing the offense this offseason. At this rate, Coleman could be on his way to transforming into a viable piece in the passing game in 2015.
Talking about wide receivers, Nick Toon has been here for years now, do you think that this could potentially be his year to emerge.
Saints QB Drew Brees: “I do, absolutely. This will be his fourth season and that first year he was injured, the second year he made progress, and then last year he had a chance to kind of break out a little bit and get some opportunities to play once (Brandin) Cooks went down and I felt like made the most of it. We saw glimpses. For him it’s just a matter of repetition and the more opportunities he gets I think the more plays he is going to make. We’ve had the ability to maneuver him around and give him more opportunities that way and he’s been able to handle it very well. So I’m excited for Nick Toon, he’s got a great opportunity I think there’s a great fit for him and a great opportunity for him and a great role for him in this offense.”
Toon figures to serve as the WR3 behind Brandin Cooks and Marques Colston. The role hasn't traditionally been a big fantasy producer, but Jimmy Graham is gone so the team figures to get less production out of the tight end position. If anything happens to Cooks or Colston, fantasy owners should have Toon on speed dial.
Last year, Saints WR Brandon Coleman struggled with the offense and consistency catching the football was nonexistent. Both of those facets have improved dramatically during the first two weeks of OTAs. Coleman came up with several receptions Thursday during first-team drills to drive the point home.
Coleman nabbed a deep ball from Drew Brees as safety Kenny Vaccaro lost him coming off the line as an inside receiver. Coleman picked up another nice reception on a back shoulder throw from rookie Garrett Grayson with cornerback Kyle Wilson in coverage.
Coleman's most impressive play wasn't his flashiest. The Saints wideout outmaneuvered Keenan Lewis in one-on-one coverage on a crossing route to pick up another pass connection with Brees.
It's very early, but no longer does Coleman appear to be just some 6-foot-6 guy you're hoping can become something. He's getting past that point with each practice.
The Saints wide receiver ranked second in the NFL in catch percentage among wide receivers playing in 25 percent of the snaps in 2014 by Pro Football Focus.
Drew Brees targeted Cooks 65 times with the wideout tallying 53 receptions. Only two of those missed opportunities were drops by Cooks. Brees also compiled a 110.9 quarterback rating when throwing to Cooks.
Brown's 129 catches came on 178 targets, resulting in a 72.5 completion percentage when targeted. The Steelers' stud receiver led the NFL in completion percentage when ranking the players taking at least 50 percent of the snaps in 2014.
The article discusses how Cooks has gone to Brown for advice about becoming a better wide receiver. Through Week 11, Cooks was the #22 WR in PPR formats and #25 in standard scoring systems. He caught at least five passes in seven of 10 games, and is likely to lead the Saints in targets with Jimmy Graham no longer on the roster. Solid WR2 numbers are well within reach, and Cooks could conceivably finish as a WR1 in PPR leagues.
Afterward, coach Sean Payton made it clear that Colorado State's Garrett Grayson was the only passer the team had eyes for.
"This was the one," Payton said, per The Times-Picayune. "If he wasn't available, we probably would have gone without drafting a quarterback."
He looms as a fit, with NFL Media's Mike Mayock comparing Grayson's game to Drew Brees. Payton, though, emphasized that New Orleans isn't contemplating the end of the veteran's NFL career, saying of the 36-year-old Brees: "We love our starter."
By the time Brees is ready to hang it up, Grayson should be ready to go. Payton is a good coach and Grayson should develop while he waits for playing time.
Saints WR Brandin Cooks was really starting to hit his stride when he suffered a season-ending thumb injury in Week 10 last year. Of all the rookie receivers who burst into the scene in the NFL last year, Cooks was actually leading all rookie receivers with 53 receptions at the time of his injury. And the Saints were starting to consistently hit on some deep balls to the 5-10, 189-pound speedster.
Drew Brees said he and Cooks have already spent some time training together this offseason in San Diego, where Brees calls home base when he's not in New Orleans.
"Oh yeah. Yeah, yeah," Brees said when asked if Cooks is one of the guys he's excited to watch develop. "Man, I love everything about him, his makeup, and then just his physical ability. I mean he's got all kinds of talent."
Monday, April 6, 2015, 8:03pm
The Jets quarterback has spent time in California this offseason working out with former major-league pitcher-turned-quarterback tutor Tom House, who also has worked with Drew Brees, Alex Smith, Matt Cassel and former Jet Tim Tebow.
"It wasn't a thing where I needed to change things," said Smith, who is 11-18 in two seasons. "It was basically just going out there to work out and get better, and that's what we accomplished."
"As of right now, I'm just focusing on getting better every single day and relishing every single opportunity that I have," Smith said on a conference call Monday after the team's first day of voluntary workouts. "Today's only Day 1, Phase 1."
Smith said he is "very pleased" with the progress he's made, but it remains to be seen what his new coaching staff thinks of him compared with the other quarterbacks on the roster, the story added. The Jets traded for veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick and the team has hinted they may want to add another quarterback.
Jay Glazer reported that the deal sends Seattle's first round pick and C Max Unger to the Saints. The Seahawks have been looking to upgrade at tight end for a while now, and they finally got their guy. Graham's value takes a minor hit as he heads to the run-oriented Seahawks, though he'll continue to be a target hog given the current state of the Seattle receiving corps. The move is a big upgrade for Russell Wilson, who was the #3 QB in 2014 despite a serious lack of playmakers in the passing game. Conversely, it's a major downgrade for Drew Brees, who loses his top target in the passing game. Unger's arrival is good news for the recently re-signed Mark Ingram, while the Seahawks will have to find a way to replace one of the best centers in the game. The loss of Unger will have a negative impact on Marshawn Lynch. Also, TE Josh Hill could step into a big role for the Saints.
Monday, December 29, 2014, 10:04am
Marques Colston might be back with the New Orleans Saints next year. But just in case he isn’t, the Saints cherished his game-winning touchdown in Sunday’s 23-20 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for all it was worth.
Colston was awarded a game ball after turning a short pass into a 36-yard TD with 1:57 remaining. And the usually-stoic veteran even shed a tear, fellow receiver Robert Meachem told The Advocate.
“You couldn’t have scripted a better ending,” said Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who acknowledged that assistant coach Joe Vitt had made the team aware of certain milestones they could reach in the season finale -- including the fact that Brees and Colston could move into fifth place in NFL history with 68 touchdowns as a duo (they broke a tie with Peyton Manning and Reggie Wayne).
Brees, Meachem and receiver Kenny Stills all insisted that they expect Colston to be back in 2014, even though his future is in doubt since he’s due $7 million in salary and bonuses. But the emotion they all expressed made it clear that they’re prepared for the possibility Colston, 31, might be done after nine seasons with the Saints. Colston could take a pay cut to stay, the story pointed out, but Saints may want to move on with a healthy Brandin Cooks back next year to go along with Stills, who emerged this year after injuries slowed his start to 2014.
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