On Thursday, the Cleveland Browns begin their preseason at home against the New Orleans Saints. To help preview a few topics from the Saints’ perspective, I reached out to John Hendrix from Canal Street Chronicles and exchanged five questions with him. Enjoy!
Chris: “Let's get the big one out of the day -- Gregg Williams is now the Browns' defensive coordinator. Trying as best as you can to put aside the whole Bountygate portion of his reign, how did Saints fans perceive him as a defensive coordinator?”
John: “Williams brought a ton of intensity to the Saints defense, but perhaps the blunder of the 2011 playoff game against the 49ers is what most will remember him for. Williams was loved by his players and they knew what was expected of him. However, he was known as a 'rogue' coach towards the end, and that didn't sit very well with Sean Payton.”
Chris: “I forgot until the other day that Adrian Peterson is on the Saints' roster. Any word on how he has looked this training camp, and how the team will utilize both he and Mark Ingram?”
John: “Peterson shows no physical signs of slowing down. The best way I can describe him is he's put together like a tank, being in top shape. He certainly looks the part and has told us at practice that he feels good, so one would assume he's in for good things. Mark Ingram, despite what an unofficial preseason depth chart says, is the starter in New Orleans. These two should work well together, but after coming off the first 1,000-yard season of his career, Ingram is as hungry as they come.”
Chris: “The Saints drafted Ohio State cornerback at No. 11 overall. How has he performed in camp, and do you expect him to be a Week 1 starter?”
John: “Lattimore has mostly run with the second team defense, but has suffered a setback in the way of a sprained knee. He's been in and out of practice, not participating currently, but he tweeted the other day that 'he's good'. Lattimore has been in some real intense one-on-one battles, winning a good bit. However, he's also shown that he's a rookie, if that makes sense. I wouldn't place too much stock into him being the Week 1 starter yet, as P.J. Williams and Delvin Breaux (and possibly Ken Crawley) will hold those honors.”
Chris: “Tell us about one player on offense and one player on defense who is a relative unknown, but who has turned heads in camp thus far.”
John: “On offense, the latest buzz is around Towson's Darius Victor. He's only 5-foot-8, but runs with tons of power. During a Saturday practice, we witnessed him trucking a linebacker twice, and he simply wouldn't go down on first contact. The Saints have had a rich history of finding undrafted gems in Sean Payton's tenure, and he's someone to watch during this game.
For the defense, it would have to be between three players: linebacker Adam Bighill, who spent time in the CFL, defensive lineman Mitchell Loewen, and cornerback Arthur Maulet. All three have had some strong moments in camp, and fans are intrigued to see how they fare in the preseason opener.”
Chris: “What is the top position battle currently taking place for the Saints?”
John: “There's plenty of battles going on, but for me it would be at linebacker. Free agent acquisition A.J. Klein has consistently been in with any rotation of linebackers for the first string, and the Saints are stressing the importance of versatility for the others. No one is set into one specific position, so the competition is wide open there between Craig Robertson, Stephone Anthony, Manti Te'o, Adam Bighill, Nate Stupar, and Michael Mauti.”
Thanks again to John for taking the time to answer my questions.