Mike D's10 Weekly Observations......
Sponsored by Thibodaux Regional Medical Center
1. Every "Who Dat Nation" member wants to see, even though it is just preseason, the best player to ever wear the black and gold in quarterback Drew Brees connect to 2014 1st round pick Brandin Cooks.
Brees is still one of the elite players in the game today and you are looking at a future superstar and the next "Steve Smith" in wide receiver Brandin Cooks.
2. Free Safety Jairus Byrd is something special....
Despite missing a host of time on the field in the OTA's and training camp due to recovery from off-season back surgery Byrd stood out so much once he hit the practice field for the first time this week.
He made a play on a pass over the middle that Saints QB. Ryan Griffin looked one way and threw to the other side of the field and Byrd took an angle to the ball that you rarely see, and broke up the would-be completion.
Byrd is a special player and you can clearly see why the Saints paid what they did to get him and why he has intercepted 22 interceptions over the past 5 seasons.
Kenny Vaccaro/Jairus Byrd.. best safety tandem east of Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor/Seattle.
3. The Saints OL. is much improved......
Last season the Saints Offensive Line gave up more QB. sacks and Drew Brees got hit more than any other time in his career in New Orleans.
The Saints O-Line playing without Ben Grubbs and Jahri Evans in the starting lineup early on in the preseason has given up just one QB. sack in 82 passing plays. Kudos to Terron Armstead, Zach Strief, Tim Lelito, Jonathan Goodwin, Bryce Harper, Marcel Jones, Thomas Welch, Jason Weaver and Senio Kelemete..
They have done well to protect Ryan Griffin and Luke McCown.
4. The Most Important Player on D.
Right now due to health, depth and age issues on defense the most important player defensively for the New Orleans Saints is cornerback Keenan Lewis. It would be a Mount Everest dropoff in cornerback play if Lewis were to miss playing time for an extended period.
With injuries to Patrick Robinson, injury/Father Time issue with Champ Bailey, Stanley Jean Baptiste in the learning stages.... cornerback is a real concern from a starting and depth issue standpoint.
Corey White is really an inside nickel cornerback in the NFL, but he may be forced into the starting lineup.
No debate with depth and talent issues .... Keenan Lewis-a player on the verge of Pro Bowl status- and is the most important player today on the Saints roster on defense.
5. The 4...
There are 4 players, inside linebackers Ramon Humber and Kevin Reddick, tight end Josh Hill and the biggest surprise of the OTA's, training camp and 2 preseason games in weakside linebacker Kyle Knox, that are in the lineup for all special team units. Bet the House they all make the 53-man squad.
6. Want to see the Heat
I really want to take a good look at the pressure the Saints front seven put on Indy QB. Andrew Luck. The 3rd preseason game is the dress rehearsal to an extent and while the Colts do have some signature players like T. Y. Hilton, a healthy Reggie Wayne, TE's Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen, OLB. Robert Mathis, CB. Vernon Davis and S. LaRon Landry, their overall talent is slightly above average.
Andrew Luck is a superstar in the making.
If given a NFL expansion team today. Luck is my choice to start a team from scratch.
Interesting to see how the Saints get pressure on Luck.
7. When the 53-man roster is set I really believe the Saints keep 5 safeties.
Kenny Vaccaro, Jairus Byrd, Rafael Bush, Marcus Ball and Vinnie Sunseri, all make the final 53-man roster.
8. The Adams Era at LSU...
I am not comparing talent, but in talking to upper-classmen on the LSU team the one player they universally say is a cut above is freshman safety Jamal Adams. He is talked about in the same football vein as Tyrann Mathieu was when he was a freshman.
I have written in the past that in many ways the former Texas high school standout reminds me so much of a young Kenny Vaccaro. He has great instincts to the ball in flight, he is very physical and he packs quite a shot to opponents in the openfield.
Watch for Jamal Adams at LSU. He is the next All-American player and what a secondary lineup with the two best sophomore cornerbacks in America in Rashard Robinson and Tre'Davious White.
9. Gotta Find Room
Les Miles has always talked about playing the best five offensive linemen and he is loaded across the board upfront. The next big time player in my opinion is redshirt sophomore right tackle Jerald Hawkins, but watch for Ethan Pocic.
Pocic, the sophomore from Lemont High School in Illinois, is the younger brother of former Illinois 3-year starting center Graham Pocic.
Ethan has seen work at center, guard and tackle for the Tigers and now many believe he will beat out senior center Elliott Porter.
The 6-6 1/2, 295 pounder has quick feet, excellent technical skills and he is a very good pass protector. He has worked hard to physically get stronger and now he is pressing Porter for the starting center spot.
10. Kalen to the rescue.
Next weekend I travel to the Air Force Academy for the very first time to watch Nicholls State play Air Force.
And I get to watch the most physically gifted football player to wear a Colonels uniform since cornerback Lardarius Webb in quarterback Kalen Henderson.
The former East St. John High School standout, who started his college career at Tulsa, is a playmaker of the highest order.
Henderson is a terrific openfield runner, he has a quick over-the-top delivery and the ball comes out of his hand in a flash. Kalen has a chance to be a big time game changer.....Let's hope he can stay healthy and give the Colonels a signature year offensively.
10B.. Love the idea of a 10-man developmental squad.
One of the smartest things done by the NFL in quite some time.
The NFL needs a spot to develop their young players and the developmental squad is cheaper than sending players to Europe. I still think they should have a developmental league in the spring, but in the states... not in Europe.
In January of 2016 Thibodaux Regional Medical Center will open their new Wellness/Orthopedic Center... A 1st of its kind in Louisiana .. It's a game-changer in Louisiana and the Deep South.
Proud to be part of Team Thibodaux Regional Medical Center