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#1 Posted : 05 November 2018 09:23:34(UTC)

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it’s too early to judge New Orleans’ last-ranked running game.New Orleans managed only 43 yards rushing on 13 attempts in a Week 1 loss to Tampa Bay, but Payton said that was more about the nature of a game because the Saints had to lean on the pass after falling behind. And https://www.thesaintsfanshop.com/Archie-Manning-Jersey though the coach was more critical of the running game following the Saints 21-18 victory over Cleveland, he stressed: “We’re talking about one game here. We’re not talking about a crisis.”The Saints’ surge to the NFC South title last season was fueled to a large degree by a rejuvenated running game that ranked fifth in the NFL.The addition of Alvin Kamara, who became the 2017 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, to Mark Ingram, who had his second consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season, gave New Orleans an elite tandem.Heading into Sunday’s game against Atlanta, the Saints are averaging an NFL-worst 52.5 yards rushing during a 1-1 start.Ingram is serving a four-game suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. Falling behind early also has compounded matters for New Orleans. Payton has had to lean heavily on Drew Brees and wide receiver Michael Thomas, who has an NFL-record 28 catches through two games.“We definitely miss Mark,” Thomas said. “He adds value to this offense.”New Orleans’ 36 rushing attempts are third-fewest in the NFL, but the Saints also have struggled when they have run the ball, averaging only 2.9 yards per rush. That ranks second-to-last, ahead of only Tampa Bay.When Ingram’s suspension was announced in the spring, Payton said the solution would not be to just give his carries to Kamara. Yet, Kamara’s workload has increased. He has averaged 10.5 carries and 7.5 pass receptions after averaging 7.5 rushes and five receptions per game last season.The Saints spent much of the offseason, training camp and preseason looking for a complementary running back to Kamara.The turnstile of rushers hasn’t worked out.New Orleans signed veterans Terrance West and Shane Vereen and drafted Boston Scott in the sixth round to join holdovers Jonathan Williams, Trey Edmunds and Daniel Lasco.West and Edmunds were released, Vereen and Lasco wound up on injured reserve and Scott was released and later signed to the practice squad.The Saints wound up signing Mike Gillislee after he was released by the Patriots at the end of the preseason and bringing up Williams after briefly placing him on the practice squad.After two games, Gillislee has 11 rushes for 27 yards and he lost a fumble that Tampa Bay returned for a pivotal touchdown in the Saints’ 48-41 loss in the season opener. Williams has rushed just twice minus-1 yard.Payton said communication and blocking were the main issues against the Browns, who held the Saints to 62 yards on 23 rushing attempts.“We just didn’t run as effectively against (Cleveland) as we would have liked,” Payton said. “It’s one of those teams that’s going to give you some tough run looks. There’s just a number of things that we have to get cleaned up.”Brees cited two important runs that helped the Saints rally from a 12-3 deficit in the fourth quarter.Kamara had an 18-yard run that started a touchdown drive which pulled them within two points. He also gained five yards on a third-and-2 to extend another touchdown drive that gave New Orleans its first lead.“When we rushed better in the latter part help of the game it helped,” Payton added. “When we review with our players where we stand in terms of what’s important to winning and losing https://www.thesaintsfanshop.com/Mark-Ingram-Jersey , (running effectively) certainly sits at the top.”Notes: Defensive tackle Tyeler Davison (foot), receiver Tommylee Lewis (knee) and linebacker Manti Te’o (knee) did not practice on Wednesday. … The Saints listed three players as limited in practice: left tackle Terron Armstead (knee), receiver Ted Ginn (knee) and left guard Andrus Peat (ankle). METAIRIE, La. (AP) — Saints training camp opened with uncertainty over who’ll help All-Pro defensive end Cameron Jordan bolster the pass rush from the edges.Alex Okafor, Marcus Davenport and Trey Hendrickson appear to be the top candidates for the other starting end job, but the only one of those players who is a proven commodity is coming back from a significant injury. The other two are inexperienced.Okafor missed the last five regular season games and playoffs last season with a torn Achilles .Hendrickson is entering his second season, but played only in a reserve role as a rookie and missed four games with various injuries.The 6-foot-6, 265-pound Davenport was seen as a gamble — albeit with potentially significant upside — as a first-round pick out of UTSA last spring.After the first padded practice of camp Saturday, defensive coordinator Dennis Allen offered a cautious evaluation of the progress Davenport has made since his arrival at Saints headquarters nearly three months ago.“I’ve seen some improvement out of him. He’s still got a long way to go,” Allen said. “He needed to get bigger and stronger — and he did that during the offseason program. And now, it’s about just continuing to work on his fundamentals, his technique.”During 11-on-11 drills Saturday, Davenport burst into the backfield for a virtual sack on Drew Brees. Defenders are ordered not to touch quarterbacks during practice, so Davenport pulled up and stood next to Brees, who seemed to instinctively brace himself before trying to salvaging the practice snap with a throw.Davenport downplayed the isolated success.“It really doesn’t mean nothing. I’ve got to do it consistently,” he said, noting that on a subsequent snap, “I got thrown to the ground. So I still got to work on my hands and leverage.”Davenport has been lining up often against starting left tackle Terron Armstead, the Saints’ second-highest-paid offensive player. The easygoing rookie appears to have embraced the challenge and laughs off moments in which Armsted has put him on the turf.“I like going against Terron, even though I lose,” Davenport said. “I get thrown around. But hey, I’m working. I think that’s something that’s actually worth it to me. I know when I can beat him consistently, I’m going to be ready.”Davenport also has sought to focus on immediate Jermon Bushrod Jersey , incremental goals, but acknowledged that it’s hard to ignore the big picture of why New Orleans, a playoff team last season, traded up from its 27th pick to draft him 14th overall.“Obviously, I’ve felt the pressure and obviously, it’s in the air. But luckily with my coaches and my teammates, they’ve helped me to not even think about it,” he said. “It’s more about improving on a daily basis — every day getting better — because we’ve got big goals and I want to be able to contribute.”For now, the 6-4, 261-pound Okafor, who had 4 1/2 sacks in 11 games last season, is lining up as a first-team end on far side from Jordan — a sign of how encouraged the Saints have been by his recovery.“Alex has done a good job rehabbing from that injury and he was having a really good season for us a year ago,” general manager Mickey Loomis said. “I am anxious to see if he can get back to that. I think he will. I feel pretty good about that.”The Saints moved decisively to ink Okafor to a two-year extension while he was still rehabilitating, and Okafor said he was eager to remain in New Orleans.“I knew coming into the offseason, whether I was healthy or not, I wanted to stay,” said Okafor, explaining that he benefited from being a more traditional end in a four-lineman scheme in New Orleans, as opposed to more of an outside linebacker role earlier in his career with Arizona. “It was just a good fit.”Loomis also mentioned Hendrickson when speaking this week about players who might help apply pressure from the edges.Hendrickson, who had two sacks and a forced fumble last season, “has done a good job,” Loomis said. “So I think we’ve got candidates there.”

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