July 26, Ochsner Sports Performance Center, Metairie, Louisiana
Helped by infusion of elite young talent, Saints pulled out of three-year rut of mediocrity and won NFC South.
They were seconds away from advancing to NFC title game, only to be thwarted by Minnesota receiver Stefon Diggs' winning touchdown as time expired in divisional round.
New Orleans received major contributions from running back and Offensive Rookie of Year Alvin Kamara, and cornerback and Defensive Rookie of Year Marshon Lattimore.
Several other first-and second-year players filled regular roles as well, and veteran Drew Brees remained one of NFL's top QBs.
LB Demario Davis, S Kurt Coleman, CB Patrick Robinson, WR Cameron Meredith, Rookie DE Marcus Davenport.
S Kenny Vaccaro, TE Coby Fleener, WR Willie Snead, G Senio Kelemete, RT Zach Strief, CB Delvin Breaux.
Lineup is relatively stable from last-season's playoff run, but New Orleans looking to bolster pass rush by finding someone who can make offenses pay for sending multiple blockers at All-Pro end Cameron Jordan. Saints want Davenport to develop into that player. But he is raw in first season out of UTSA.
Saints also want to figure out which running backs can fill in for Mark Ingram during his four-game suspension to open season. Veteran free agents Shane Vereen and Terrence West, along with draft pick Boston Scott and second-year pro Trey Edmunds, are competing for those snaps.
Saints appear to have gotten stronger and deeper than last season, particularly with additions on defense. Keys to improving are how well new players fit and, as usual, avoiding injuries.
If Davenport develops quickly, Saints could be elite. If not, teams with good plan to block Jordan could give New Orleans fits.
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