Thursday, 02 June 2011 17:13

New Orleans Saints: Bush, Pierre Thomas, NFL Lockout And Sharper Image

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New Orleans SaintsThe Who Dat Nation has always been fans of what Saints running back Pierre Thomas can do.

He makes defenders miss tackles, can pick up yards after contact and is a very reliable receiver. So reliable in fact, that he was the only player in the NFL who did not drop a ball the entire season.

Saints running back and slot receiver Reggie Bush caught 19 straight passes from Drew Brees during a span last season, but had several drops.

The downside to that is that he was only thrown 29 catchable balls, and he missed a significant amount of playing time to injury (not for the first time). But when he's healthy, he's as complete a back is there is.

Thomas, over the past three seasons, has only dropped one ball.  He's not alone in that regard as both Steve Slaton and Felix Jones have matched that total.

Former Tulane running back Matt Forte of Tulane and the Bears had a dismal 2009, but rebounded strongly last year and has always been a reliable receiver out of the backfield. Just seven drops since entering the league gives Jay Cutler the kind of safety valve he'll continue to need without massive improvements in their offensive line.

Saints wide receiver Robert Meachem was second in the NFL when it came to catching the highest percentage of deep balls thrown his way.

Meachem, acting as an imposing downfield target, has never seen the 20+ pass thrown to him over the required distance to rank first in this category. He caught 55 per cent of the deep passes thrown to him

Wide receivers Mike Wallace of the Steelers and Calvin Johnson of the Lions turned the most catches into touchdowns with 7 apiece.



Sharper Image

Saints safety Darren Sharper said on Wednesday he hopes the NFL lockout will end soon even though it might help him play his 15th season in the NFL. He is 35 now and a free agent.

The future Hall of Famer hopes his experience works to his favor once the lockout is lifted.

"Both sides are going to have to accept something they don't want to accept to get this lockout over.

"Not having a season could cut short a player's career, The settlement getting worked out looks bleak now."

The fact that teams haven't held rookie minicamps or any offseason activities means the learning curve will be steeper than usual for rookies and younger players.,which might put a minimum on players as steeped in the game as Sharper.

A knee injury kept him out of most of the 2010 season, but he is healthy now and feels like a different player.

If the if the labor dispute extends into August, he said the fans and the players must brace for a near certainty that all or part of the preseason will be lost and for the distinct possibility that the 2011 season might not feature a full 16-game schedule.

Sharper said he wants to be a television or radio analyst for NFL games after his active career is over.; "I might give acting in movies a shot," said Sharper. "I will make New Orleans my home after playing football."

Sharper is sponsoring a charity softball game at Zephyr Field on July 23 with proceeds going to the American Cancer fund and the Sharper Kids Foundation.


SOME hither, others yon: Despite the lockout, the NFL is ahead of its 2010 pace for selling season tickets. That gives the teams taking money away from non-player employees even less cause to continue to do so. The increase arose from an accelerated launch to the sales effort, given the looming lockout. In other words, "Let's get the money now from the folks who didn't realize there may not be football this year."

Ed Staton

by Ed Staton

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Ed Staton

Ed Staton is a former sports writer for the Times Picayune and New Orleans States Item.  He also served as the New Orleans Saints Information Director.  He has won 43 media awards in writing, design and photography. | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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