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New Orleans Saints
Haslett regime puts faith in Blake, Williams
Latest: Friday August 04, 2000 01:38 AM
All eyes in the Big Easy will be watching to see if Ricky Williams can rebound from a bizarre rookie season. Harry How/Allsport
The New Orleans opened their training camp at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, La., on July 14. Here are a few questions from Sports Illustrated's Dr. Z, followed by CNNSI.com's perspective on some of the issues facing the Saints this season. SI's season preview will post Aug. 23.
Dr. Z wants to know:
1.) Why do I feel that Jim Haslett, young (42), hard-working and smart, is just
the man to clear up the Mike Ditka wreckage?
2.) Can Jeff Blake be the Saints' first real take-charge QB since Bobby Hebert?
|1999 record: 3-13 (fifth in NFC West)
Coach: Jim Haslett (entering first season as head coach)
Stadium: Louisiana Superdome (70,054, artificial turf)
1999 rankings: Offense -- 18th run, 19th pass, 20th overall. Defense -- 20th run, 20th pass, 20th overall.
1999 player stats
CNNSI.com Projection: 5-11
3.) The defensive backfield collapsed last year as good players found
themselves without technique, fundamentals, confidence, you name it. Can Haslett
and his staff restore all this in one season?
4.) What will Ricky Williams be like injury-free and if gets banged up again,
will he become suspect?
The Saints can make the playoffs if ... they forget about any recent Cinderella stories like the '98 Falcons or '99 Rams and concentrate on improvement. New Orleans doesn't have enough depth at any position to be a serious playoff contender.
Pivotal games: Carolina (Oct. 15), at Atlanta (Oct. 22). The Saints have to figure out a way to win divisional games, especially against the Falcons, who have beaten New Orleans 10 consecutive times.
On the hot seat: Running back Ricky Williams displayed a mysterious attitude and injuries impeded his on-field progress in 1999. More of the same this year could cause the front office to think about a trade to recoup some of the draft picks New Orleans lost to get the 1998 Heisman Trophy winner.
Up-and-comers: Right tackle Kyle Turley -- not the overrated William Roaf -- was New Orleans' best offensive lineman last year and has started all but one game in his two years in the league.
|Unrestricted Free Agents
||Restricted Free Agents
| Tom Ackerman, G, re-signed
|| Ink Aleaga, LB
|| Tommy Barnhardt, signed Was.
| Ashley Ambrose, CB, signed with Atl.
|| Brett Bech, WR
|| Tyronne Drakeford, CB
| Je'Rod Cherry, S, signed with Oak.
|| Troy Davis, RB
|| Andre Hastings, WR, signed T.B.
| Willie Clay, S
|| Make Halpin, DT, re-signed
|| Billy Joe Hobert, QB, signed Ind.
| Lawrence Dawsey, WR
|| Chris Hewitt, S
|| Lamar Smith, RB, signed Mia.
| John Farquhar, TE
|| Rob Kelley, S, re-signed
|| Troy Wilson, DE
| Kendall Gammon, C, signed with K.C.
|| Dino Philyaw, RB, re-signed
|| Danny Wuerffel, QB, signed G.B.
| Darren Mickell, DE, signed with S.D.
|| Jared Tomich, DE, re-signed
| Kevin Mitchell, LB, signed with Was.
| Austin Robbins, DT, signed with Oak.
| Scott Slutzker, TE
| Brady Smith, DE, signed with Atl.
| Vinson Smith, LB
|2000 Draft Picks|
|| Darren Howard
|| Kansas St.
|| Terrelle Smith
|| Arizona St.
|| Tutan Reyes
|| Austin Wheatley
|| Chad Morton
|| Marc Bulger
|| West Virginia
|| Mike Hawthorne
|| Sherrod Gideon
|| Southern Mississippi
|| Kevin Houser
|| Ohio St.
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