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Despite NFL Lockout, New Orleanss Saints Could Fly High 2011
Written by  // Friday, 27 May 2011 14:59 //

SaintsThe Saints could have six players in the Pro Bowl after the 2011 season. They had seven selected in 2009, but none could play because they were going to play in the Super Bowl the next week.

Drew Brees and five others: Wide receiver Marques Colston, guards Carl Nicks and Jehri Evans, linebacker Jonathan Villa and safety Malcolm Jenkins should make the game this season.

Brees has been to the Pro Bowl every year but one since joining the Saints in 2006.

Colston is coming off his third knee surgery and the most underrated wide receiver in the NFL has never been picked for the game. Colston's statistics aren't that gleaming because Brees throws to many different receivers.

With the Saints looking like they'll be depending more on their running game this season, that won't boost his stats either. However, his touchdowns likely will increase with added red-zone opportunities.

Nicks and Evans have quickly become the one of the better guards in the league despite being low draft choices.

Seldom is a guard mentioned as one of the top offensive linemen in football, but Nicks and Evans have been very consistent up front.  Evans has been consistent since becoming a starter in Game 1 of his first season. Nicks was drafted as a tackle, but the coaches moved him inside in his first training camp.

The Saints' offensive line has become one of the best in the league in pass protection and has done a credible job in the running game.

Vilma is the Drew Brees of the defense at middle linebacker. He calls the defensive signals. His numbers are good enough to get him elected to the Pro Bowl as an alternate, but the Saints' improved defense and number of wins should get him elected to the roster.

Jenkins, a high school commencement speaker, replaced Darren Harper as the free safety last season after spending his rookie year at the corner. He is a star of the future and will get Pro Bowl votes as he starts more games. He's a new guy on the block at safety.

Who can forget when Jenkins stripped the ball away from Cowboys receiver Roy Williams near the end of the Thanksgiving Day game, which help lift the Saints over the Cowboys for a victory?

This will be Jenkins' third season in the league and the media will be paying more attention to him this year.

Drew Brees and the lockout

SOME hither, others yon: Bleacherreport, the website that produces power rankings daily for the NFL and colleges, ranks the Saints 2011 schedule as the league's 10th most difficult (KC is No. 1). Writes the site: "This season they start with a Thursday night game at Lambeau against the defending Super Bowl champion Packers. On a positive note for the Saints, the tundra most likely won't be frozen in early September, but still not exactly the easiest way to open the season for either team. Their regular  season  will come to a close with a home game against the Panthers, which means if they can only hold off the rest of the division (toughest in the NFL) until Jan. 1, we like the Saints' chances."...

Bleacherreport.com predicts these final 2011 stats for Brees: 4,850 yards, 40 TD. 15 INT, 68 per cent completion...The site ranks former Saints coaches Hank Stram, Mike Ditka and Bum Phillips among the top 25 best-dressed coaches of all time in the NFL (Bum Phillips?)...Jamie Dukes, NFL Network analyst: "We have to be playing football on 9/11 -- and I have no doubt at all it will happen."...Even if the lockout drags deep into August, it's still conceivable the NFL could play a full season if Week 1 kicks off no later than Oct. 2. That would entail moving the Super Bowl from Feb. 5 to Feb. 12 in Indianapolis....NFL commissioner Roger Goodell: "Our objective is to have a full season, we scheduled a full season, we are planning for  a full season, and that's our intnt".:,,,



SOME hither, others yon: Saints wide receiver Marques Colston and guard Carl Nicks will be featured in the NFL Network's "The Top 100 Players of 2011" this Sunday at a 7 p.m. Colston and Nicks were ranked between 60-51 by their peers in the 100-player countdown, As a team, the Saints have a total of five players ranked in the top 100. Colston will be presented by former Tampa Bay coach and current ESPN Monday Night Football analyst Jon Gruden on the show. Saints linebacker Jonathan Villa will present Nicks. Last season, Colston started 11 of the 15 games he appeared in and led the Saints in catches and yardage with 84 receptions for 1,023 yards with  7 touchdowns. Nicks started at left guard in all 16 games last season on his way for his Pro Bowl selection.He was part of an offensive attack that finished ranked third in the NFC and sixth in the NFL, averaging 372.5 yards per game. He is part of a line in which all five players have started 22 consecutive regular-season games together (dating back to 2009) and four postseason games, the longest current streak in the NFL...Thought for the day: Stand back. I'm a perfectionist..

 

Reggie Bush is one of the celebrities in London competing in the Gumball 3000 Rally. Let's hope he doesn't twitter while he's driving...Bush made some headlines with his  Twitter earlier in the offseaon, but has been quiet since then, ESPN's Paul Kuharky has a new feature he's calling the "Twindex," which is  short for Twitter Index and Paul's monitoring the Twitter accounts of several 100 NFL players.His top-10 list includes Saints cornerback Tracy Porter talking about people wondering if he'll give up his jersey number (22) to rookie running back Mark Ingram. Saints fullback Heath Evans got an honorable mention....Where's Bush?

by Ed Staton

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