The Saints closed their mini camps and voluntary offseason workouts, which featured perfect attendance, and I thought this would be a good time to revisit "who's hot" and "who's not". Here's five players from each category who, at this stage, have stood out as performing well or poorly. The Saints' full training camp starts in late July and that will dictate roster spots more than anything… this was more about implementation.
1. Jimmy Graham – So far he's been the talk of the offseason, looking rejuvinated and healthy after his wrist issues of a season ago. He's catching the balls smoothly and because he's in a contract year you know he's going to want to make a huge impact. I expect very big things from Graham this season.
2. Charles Brown – He rebounded nicely from being banged up early on to making his way back up to the starting unit and looking the part. When he's in there everyone has been impressed with how he's handled the position. Maybe he's coming into his own? He's definitely a guy to keep an eye on. Remember when Jermon Bushrod was handed the LT spot it was a huge concern and no one was sure he would handle it. Hopefully Brown is ready to step up, but this mini camp went a small way towards proving that.
3. Drew Brees – How can I not include him on here? We're spoiled by his greatness to where it's become an expectation, but he continues to deliver at that same level that makes the Saints a serious contender year in, year out.
4. Isa Abdul-Quddus – He continues to show off superior ball skills and has great anticipation with the ball in the air. I expect him to stand out with no pads on because he's best reading the ball in the air so we'll see how he develops but at some point if he keeps this up you have to give him serious consideration for the starting free safety spot.
5. Kenyon Coleman – Rob Ryan obviously loves him, calling him the best 3-4 end run defender in the league. He's been running with the 1's consistently and seems to have already cemented his place on this defense.
honorable mentions: Rufus Johnson, Luke McCown, Ryan Griffin, Mike Higgins.
1. David Hawthorne – Despite the linebacking core adding an extra starting spot thanks to a new scheme, and Victor Butler getting injured and likely being out of the season, Hawthorne can't seem to crack the starting lineup. In fact, he's often not running out there with the 2's. He's quickly becoming a major free agency bust.
2. Mark Ingram – He was responsible for tearing Victor Butler's ACL by running a little too violently without pads. Not only that, but he's been working with the third team almost exclusively, which suggest the Saints may rely on Pierre Thomas more heavily this season.
3. Joe Morgan – The DUI was one of the big stories of mini camp. He has the 3rd receiver spot all but handed to him on a silver platter and for him to mess with that opportunity and make a mistake like that is incredibly stupid.
4. Kenny Stills – The rookie receiver has struggled and done very little to stand out to this point. Nick Toon seems to be far ahead of him at this point, as are a few other receivers battling for a roster spot. He seems destined for a redshirt first season.
5. Jason Smith – This is the high drafted veteran's last chance to show he can live up to his original hype, and so far Brown and Terron Armstead have largely gotten reps ahead of him.