5 New Orleans Saints Poised to Make an Impact in 2014
There will be a new look to the New Orleans Saints this season. The team did away with many of the older veterans that had been hanging on from the 2009 Superbowl Champion team. Leaders like Will Smith, Lance Moore and Jonathan Vilma are no longer in Black and Gold. Studs like Darren Sproles and Jabari Greer will be with new teams. But, there are also plenty of new talents in New Orleans. Here are five that should make an immediate impact in 2014.
Just in case you forgot... Champ Freakin' Bailey is a New Orleans Saint now! The future hall of famer is at the end of his career. However he is poised to make an impact, if not on the field, then in the locker room. The Saints have a stable of young talented defensive backs, and their new leader is one of the best the game has ever seen.
Saints fans are ready to see Khiry run! He's not a new Saint, but his role has been limited with the Saints in past seasons. I expect a heavy dose of his violent running style this year. Pierre Thomas is still the leader in the backfield. And of course, we'll see Mark Ingram carrying the ball as well. But Robinson is a talented ball carrier. If he can learn the blocking schemes and the screen pass as well as Pierre Thomas, then he will wind up being the guy the Saints offense leans on. Expect to see Khiry Robinson put some games away running the ball in the fourth quarter this season when the Saints have a lead.
Byrd is the Saints biggest off-season acquisition signing a 6 year $54 million contract. He is a Pro Bowl Safety coming over from the Buffalo Bills. He's good. He feasts on inexperienced quarterbacks. He and Kenny Vacaro could make for one of the best Safety tandems in the NFL. The Saints hope that he can make an impact in the post-season.
Hicks is one of those guys who started with a world of promise. But bad decisions and injury quickly outweighed his talent and he fell off the NFL radar. You may remember he was going to be an LSU Tiger but subjected the program to NCAA sanctions before he ever played a game in Baton Rouge. After a stint in Canada, the Saints swooped him up and he was simply one of the best defensive players all of last year in New Orleans. His sack totals may not be eye popping at the end of the year because of his interior line duties, but if this guy reaches his potential he'll be a force to be wreckoned with.
The Saints 2014 first round draft pick has already received a nickname from his teammates... "Lightning!" Cooks was the best receiver in college football last year for Oregon State with over 1,700 yards receiving, 16 touchdowns, and get this... 128 catches! Saints fans won't be missing Darren Sproles anymore after they see what he can do in Sean Payton's offense. Rarely do receivers make impacts as rookies, but Cooks impact could surface in the kicking game. Courtney Roby is gone and Cooks likely will be the man on kickoffs and punts. His highlight reel from Oregon State is ridiculous. Even better than his physical skills are his work ethic and attitude. It may take a few games before he is a major part of the offense, but the slot was made for this guy.