Saints expect defense to be much improved Print
Written by Admin   
Saturday, 26 July 2008 14:28
NFL Headline News

 JACKSON, Miss. (AP) -Jobs were in jeopardy on the Saints' defense.
Coach Sean Payton made no secret of that after New Orleans finished last season 7-9 and out of the playoffs.
Drew Brees had thrown for more than 4,000 yards for a second straight year, but it didn't matter much when the Saints' defense finished near the bottom of the NFL in yards allowed and too often fell victim to big plays, giving up more than 50 gains of 20-plus yards.
During free agency, the Saints traded for linebacker Jonathan Vilma, and signed defensive end Bobby McCray and cornerbacks Randall Gay and Aaron Glenn. Their first pick in last spring's draft was defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis. The second was cornerback Tracy Porter.
For those starters coming back to training camp this season, the message was clear: Last season's performance wasn't good enough.
``On defense, where we have had a lot of struggles, a lot of the guys who were starters last year feel a lot of pressure to come out and they've go a chip on their shoulder,'' said linebacker Scott Fujita, one of the Saints' defensive captains last season. ``That's important. I don't feel like I performed well enough last year. I think a lot of guys feel the same way.''
Ellis has been a contract holdout through the first few days of camp. Nevertheless, he and other new acquisitions apparently had one desired effect even before the team returned to Millsaps College - to inspire returning starters to work harder in the offseason.
Defensive end Charles Grant and nose tackle Hollis Thomas both attended Duke University's renowned weight loss clinic and checked in for camp looking leaner than they have in years.
Thomas, who has spent much of his career above 330 pounds, was down to around 325. Charles Grant was around 277.
Their efforts impressed star defensive end Will Smith.
``Those guys worked hard in the offseason, sacrificed not going out to eat what they want and just doing the things they know will help us,'' Smith said. ``You can tell when a guy really worked his butt off. You can tell Hollis' clothes are a little looser, that Charles' clothes are a little looser.''
The Saints' defense ranked 26th last season in yards allowed (348.1 per game), 30th against the pass (245.2) and 13th against the run (102.9).
Thomas said that while the Saints' defensive front was solid plugging up holes, their pass rush needed to improve to take pressure off the secondary. The Saints tied for 19th in the league in sacks with 32 last season.
``If we had gotten to the quarterback a little more there would have been fewer big plays,'' Thomas said. ``The pass defense starts up front. That's pretty much our philosophy.''
Thomas said going to the Duke clinic was the Saints' idea, but he didn't resist.
``I was heavy, heavier than usual and it was evident. I had do something different,'' Thomas said. ``Them sending me there let me know they cared about me as a person, more than just a football player. It let me know not only that I should do it for myself and my family but also not to let them down and make them feel like they were wasting their time.''
Thomas said he's seeing the benefits of being lighter. He's more explosive off the snap of the ball and he doesn't tire as easily. During practice on Saturday, he drew some of the loudest cheers from spectators on bull rushes in which he flattened the offensive lineman trying to block him.
Defensive coordinator Gary Gibbs said he was encouraged by returning players' form and their responses to threats to their playing time.
``No question about it - We've got better competition right now out there ... at every position,'' Gibbs said. ``That competition is the impetus, I think, that will allow us to be a better football team because everybody knows that no job is secure.''
The result, though it's early, is a defensive unit that is already showing signs of improvement over the year before, Smith said.
``Everyone always says they're going to be better than they were the year before,'' Smith began. ``You really don't know until you get out there and start playing the games, but we can tell a little bit in these practices. The way guys are flying around, just guys' attitudes, we can tell we're going to be a lot better.''
 

NFL Team Pages

Top NFL Public Bets

#1 271 Indianapolis Colts 92%
#2 265 Houston Texans 86%
#3 275 Green Bay Packers 81%
#4 263 Miami Dolphins 79%
#5 259 Seattle Seahawks 74%
#6 267 Baltimore Ravens 69%
#7 278 Dallas Cowboys 69%
#8 258 Kansas City Chiefs 66%
#9 273 Oakland Raiders 64%
#10 256 New England Patriots 63%
View All: NFL |  NBA |  NCAAF |  NCAAB |  MLB |  NHL

NFL Futures

NFL TEAM CONFERENCE ODDS CURRENT
DENVER BRONCOS 3/2
GREEN BAY PACKERS 3/1
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS 4/1
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS 5/1
DALLAS COWBOYS 5/1
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS 11/2
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS 6/1
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS 7/1
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES 8/1
ARIZONA CARDINALS 9/1
View All

Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Contact Us | Advertising | 888-99-SPREAD

THIS IS NOT A GAMBLING SITE – If you think you have a gambling problem click here.

Disclaimer: This site is for informational and entertainment purposes only. Individual users are responsible for the laws regarding accessing gambling information from their jurisdictions. Many countries around the world prohibit gambling, please check the laws in your location. Any use of this information that may violate any federal, state, local or international law is strictly prohibited.

Copyright: The information contained on TheSpread.com website is protected by international copyright and may not be reproduced, or redistributed in any way without expressed written consent.

About: TheSpread.com is the largest sports betting news site in the United States. We provide point spread news, odds, statistics and information to over 199 countries around the world each year. Our coverage includes all North American College and Professional Sports as well as entertainment, political and proposition wagering news.

©1999-2013 TheSpread.com