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10 NFL players poised to take big leap in 2019

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By Jesse Reed | Sportsnaut

Summertime is here, and football season is, too. It’s the best time of year for those of us who eat, sleep and breathe this game. It’s also the time of year when young NFL players start to set themselves apart as particularly special for their respective teams.

With that in mind, we’re taking a look at 10 younger players who are in great shape to take a big leap forward in development during the 2019 campaign.

Fred Warner, linebacker, San Francisco 49ers

A surprise starter last season due to the Reuben Foster situation and injuries to San Francisco’s linebacker group, Fred Warner shined as a rookie in 2018. A sideline-to-sideline coverage specialist, he fits perfectly in today’s pass-happy NFL. Picked up in the third round out of BYU, he racked up 124 tackles (including 85 solo) and was among the league’s best at defending the pass. San Francisco’s front four is much more dynamic this year, and Warner will be playing alongside Pro Bowler Kwon Alexander. The sky is the limit for this young linebacker.
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Drew Brees ok, narrative on career decline pronounced DOA

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A drop off in production by Drew Brees in the final games of 2018 still has tongues wagging what’s happened and how so fast.

By Roy Anderson | WhoDatDish

You’ll hear it repeated that Saints quarterback Drew Brees saw his production drop off precipitously at the end of the 2018 Season. Most of the talk about Drew Brees and production drop-off last year goes hand in hand with predictions that he’s done. He may be done, but it won’t be for the reasons we’re going to address here.

Most of the talk about Brees’ 2018 is along the lines of a question addressed to Pro Football Focus’ New Orleans branch last week about the drop-off. They showed Brees’ passer rating from Weeks 1-13 to be 123.2 and Weeks 14-17 to be 88.2. It’s not nearly that cut and dried.

Since 2015, Drew Brees has been having games PFF grades below a 70.0. For example, in 2018, Brees had five games in which his total offensive grade was below that mark. In 2017, it was six games below that mark. In 2015, it was four games. In 2013, it was 11 games. Wait, what? That’s correct, in 2013 it was 11.

Full Story - WhoDatDish

New Orleans Saints have NFL’s 10th easiest schedule

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By James Parks | 247 Sports

In 2018, the Saints finished with the best record in football despite playing a challenging schedule, but in 2019, it appears the NFC South champions will forge a somewhat easier path.

Judging a strength of schedule for any team before the season begins is always something of a speculative proposition, given that we do not know how good any team is yet.

But recently, that task was taken up by CBS NFL analyst John Breech, who put together a full list of how tough each team’s schedule figures to be going by each opponent’s current roster.

By that metric, it appears the Saints will have a relatively easy go this coming season, saddled with what Breech measures as the 10th easiest schedule in the National Football League.

The Saints’ opponents had a combined 125-131 record (.488) in 2018. In 2019, the Washington Redskins will face the easiest schedule overall (.469 opponents record), while the Oakland Raiders will have the most difficult schedule (.539 opponents record).

Full Story - 247 Sports

2019 New Orleans Saints training camp preview: Linebacker

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Can this much-improved unit in 2018 take the next step into dominance for the 2019 Saints?

By Bob Rose | Canal Street Chronicles

The New Orleans Saints had arguably the worst linebacker play in the league from 2012-2016. Too often, coaches and fans would see a Saints linebacker beaten badly down the field or to the edge, or woefully out of position, often creating big plays for the opposition. Opposing tight ends and running backs would run amok through the New Orleans defense, with the linebacking corps often helpless to slow them down. Coach Sean Payton made a difficult personal decision after the 2016 season, moving on from longtime friend and linebackers coach Joe Vitt and replacing him with experienced defensive guru Mike Nolan. The difference in the play of the unit as a whole was immediately noticeable. The Saints linebackers, while still not a dynamic group, played much better football in 2017. Last season, the position took another big step, being arguably the most improved unit on the entire team. New Orleans benefited last year from one of the league's most underrated free-agent signings, as well as a return from injury by a highly regarded draft pick from the previous year. With training camp just a couple of days away from the official...

Chauncey Gardner-Johnson says Saints are the NFL’s ‘best team’

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By James Parks | 247 Sports

The New Orleans Saints added to their safety rotation this offseason when they selected former Florida defensive back Chauncey Gardner-Johnson in the 2019 NFL Draft.

Gardner-Johnson said he has joined the best team in the NFL.

“It’s the best all-around team from top to bottom, offense and defense,” he said this offseason. “I’m just coming into a system where everything has a standard. I’m just going to come in and live up to that standard so everyone on the team and in the front office upstairs can be proud of me and say these guys are set.”

Last season, the Saints finished with an NFL best 13-3 record, won the NFC South division, and made it to the NFC Championship Game as the No. 1 seed before being eliminated.

The former Florida standout said he has known Saints secondary coach Aaron Glenn for a while after the two met up for a Nike event out west.

Full Story - 247 Sports

New Orleans Saints linebackers should continue their transcendent performance in 2019

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Defense: What used to be a dreadful conversation is no more, as the New Orleans Saints turned it around. Backed by a great trio of LBs, let's see how the group took shape.

By Zachary Knerr | ProFootball Network

During the 2018 NFL season, the New Orleans Saints got quite a surprise on the defensive side of the football. In 2017, the play of the linebackers was atrocious. Due to injury and mediocre performance the group was the shortcoming of an otherwise stellar defense.

Players were targeted, and others returned from injury during the 2018 offseason that turned this group into one of the best LB cores in the league. Now, with the 2019 season just over 50 days away, the Saints hope the group can continue to dominate and become yet another anchor of this daunting defense.

The 2017 Season

Murmurs and whispers through training camp spoke of a solid group of linebackers that would help stop the bleeding of a historically weak Saints defense. After drafting Alex Anzalone from the Florida Gators in the 2017 draft and signing Manti...

Bears hope cold weather gets to Brees in Week 7

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Our friends from Windy City Gridiron preview the Chicago Bears’ offseason.

By Chris Dunnels | Canal Street Chronicles

We’ll continue a series of opponent preview posts for the New Orleans Saints opponents in 2019. Next, we’ll look at a meeting of two playoffs teams from 2018, the Week 7 Sunday afternoon game against the Chicago Bears. Our friends over at Windy City Gridiron took some time to give us Saints fans the scoop about the reigning NFC North Champions.

Week 7: at the Chicago Bears

Notable free agent additions:

Safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, WR/KR/RB Cordarrelle Patterson, CB Buster Skrine, RB Mike Davis

Clinton Dix is the only for-sure starter signed as a free agent, although Skrine was added for the all-important nickel spot.

Over/Under:

9 wins -- Over

Most exciting rookie:
...

The most amazing sports moment I have ever seen was in 1970 and it was at a Saints game

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By Rick Cleveland | Special to the Sun Herald

Readers often ask: In all the years of writing sports what is the most amazing single athletic feat you have seen?

Good question. I have seen some stuff.

I saw Ray Guy’s 93-yard punt that rolled through the opposite end zone and into a chainlink fence, more than 115 yards from where he had kicked it. I saw Walter Payton break about 10 tackles on one run. I saw Brett Favre throw a 40-yard bullet his receiver said he heard coming. I saw Jerry Rice run a crossing pattern and reach back behind him with one hand and snatch the ball, in stride, no more than a foot off the ground. He kept going. I don’t know how. I saw Pete Maravich score 69 points in a basketball game (and if there had been a 3-point line, it might have been 80).

I saw all that and a lot more. But: The most amazing?

Let’s go back to Nov. 8, 1970. I was a just-turned-18-year-old sports writer, working full-time and going to college freshman classes when I could. Earlier that fall, I had watched 50-point underdog Southern Miss, where I went to school, shock undefeated and No. 4 Ole Miss 30-14 at Oxford. So I thought I had seen my one miracle for...

Mike Detillier: Buddy D’s interview with Coach Lombardi

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By Mike Detillier / Sports Correspondent

Over the last week, I went through files given to me by my former WWL-Radio 870 radio broadcast partner and former longtime newspaper writer, television broadcaster and radio host Buddy Diliberto.

For over 40 years the New Orleanian covered the sports scene in Louisiana like no one else ever did.

I ran across an interview Diliberto transcribed from film to paper when he went to Washington to interview legendary head coach Vince Lombardi in the summer of 1969 after Lombardi accepted the head coaching job with the Washington Redskins.

Lombardi won six NFL championships for the Green Bay Packers from 1959-1967, posted a 89-29-4 mark in Green Bay and coached the Packers to wins in Super Bowls I and II, but in early 1968 Lombardi retired from coaching to be just the general manager of the Packers.

However, Lombardi grew restless in the front office and wanted to return to coaching in 1969.

With termites already eating away at the fragile football foundation of then-New Orleans Saints head coach Tom Fears, Saints owner John Mecom met with Lombardi about taking over the young franchise.

Full Story - houmatoday.com

Cameron Jordan lauds Cam Newton for how difficult he is to sack

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By Steven Taranto | 247 Sports

With the retirement of Julius Peppers this past offseason, there's no room for contention anymore: New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan - who once idolized Peppers as a boy - is the most-feared and most-accomplished pass rusher in the NFC South.

With 25 sacks and two All-Pro honors over the past two seasons, Jordan has become one of the most-menacing forces attacking opposing quarterbacks in the league today. And one of the top weapons in his arsenal is his way with words, which has made him one of the league's most-notorious trash talkers. Over the years, one of Jordan's favorite trash talk targets has been another Cameron: Cam Newton, the quarterback of the Carolina Panthers. But beneath the persona he brings to the football field, Jordan's feelings towards Newton are nuanced. And he views the 2015 MVP of the National Football League as more than just his prey.

Speaking in an interview with FOX Sports' Colin Cowherd, Jordan spoke glowingly of Newton's abilities to shrug off opposing pass rushers and avoid sacks, stating that the Panthers' franchise...

Eric McCoy headlines Saints' rookies reporting Thursday for training camp

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By Herbie Teope | The Advocate

Here come the Saints’ rookies.

The team’s first-year players report Thursday for training camp, a week ahead of veteran teammates before the two groups combine for practice Friday, July 26.

The Saints’ foundation on both sides of the ball appears set with established starters, though, signaling the 2019 draft class shouldn’t experience an immediate impact with the exception of one player: center Erik McCoy.

McCoy, a second-round pick (44th overall), finds himself in what projects as a three-way battle with Nick Easton and Cameron Tom for the starting job, which opened after Max Unger announced his retirement during the offseason.

Full Story - The Advocate

Tre’Quan Smith still wants to prove himself

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By James Parks | 247 Sports

Last season as a rookie, Tre’Quan Smith had his ups and downs, but on the whole, the New Orleans Saints wide receiver enjoyed a what could be called a solid outing in 2018.

But in 2019, Smith wants to take a big step forward.

His first chance to make another good impression will come in the team’s organized team activities, which take place this week and into the beginning of June.

“I feel like it’s very important for me just to come out and give everybody (an example) of what I’m very capable of,” he said, via the Times Picayune.

“Even though I didn’t have a good season in year one, it’s onto bigger and better things, and I’ve really got to prove myself all over again and show everybody, being a great asset to this team.”

Full Story - 247 Sports

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