The Saints have a lot of unanswered questions heading into camp.
Some of those will have to be decided on the field. Who are the linebackers? How will the rookies play? Who will snap Thomas Morstead the ball on punts?
It will take time before we can answer these questions. In the meantime, here are some of the battles we'll be keeping an eye on:
Stephone Anthony vs. The World
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The Saints took a volume approach at building depth at linebacker this offseason. No position is set, and new linebackers coach Mike Nolan has no biases since he is coming in with a fresh set of eyes. That means every job is up for grabs, and Anthony can put the sins of last season behind him and only worry about the future. If he can carve out a role, even if it’s as a reserve, it would be a major benefit if the former first-round pick can get on the field in some capacity. This battle isn’t limited to Anthony. Every linebacker will be competing for every job.
Marshon Lattimore vs. P.J. Williams
The best-case scenario for the Saints would be for rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimore to beat out P.J. Williams and win the starting job on the outside opposite Delvin Breaux. This would then allow Williams to move into the slot and New Orleans would have a strong top three at cornerback. But Lattimore is going to have to show that he’s ready for the job. It won’t be given him just because he’s a first-round pick. If Lattimore isn’t ready, Sterling Moore, Damian Swann, Arthur Maulet and De’Vante Harris will battle for the nickel role.
Adrian Peterson vs. Mark Ingram
The Saints have remained steadfast in saying that Mark Ingram and Adrian Peterson will share duties in the backfield and that there is a clear vision for both players. It’s popular to say that Ingram will be option 1, and Peterson will serve as 1A. That might be exactly how this works out. And the first battle Peterson will need to win is against time and his age. But if he proves capable, it’s hard to imagine that there won’t be at least some competition for snaps and carries. Anything else is counterintuitive.
Defensive end battle
The Saints have a lot of options at defensive end. They are short on sure things. Alex Okafor, Hau’oli Kikaha, Trey Hendrickson and Al-Quadin Muhammad could come together to form a formidable pass rush. But first, someone is going to have separate from the pack and prove that they can step in next to Cam Jordan. If replacing Nick Fairley is the top priority for the defense, then finding someone who can generate pressure off the edge runs a close second. The Saints are hopeful Okafor will be that guy after battling injuries the last two seasons in Arizona.
Chase Dominguez vs. Thomas Gafford
The Saints do not have a kicker battle this year – at least not yet – for the first time in what seems like a long time. Wil Lutz will handle that job. What isn’t yet clear is who will be snapping him the ball. New Orleans decided to move on from long-time long snapper Justin Drescher this offseason, and the current options to replace him are Chase Dominguez and Thomas Gafford. It’s possible the winner of this job isn’t even on the roster yet, but finding an answer is important after all the issues this team faced on special teams last season.