Saints Questions: Can Sedrick Ellis play up to his potential?

Saints Questions: Can Sedrick Ellis play up to his potential?

Credit: AP

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) is sacked by New Orleans Saints defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis (98) in the second half of their NFL football game at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans,Sunday, Sept. 26, 2010. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

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wwltv.com

Posted on July 6, 2012 at 11:04 AM

Updated Friday, Jul 6 at 2:30 PM

As summer seems to get hotter and hotter and we get down to only baseball on TV, there’s only one thing to do to keep our interest – answer questions and give our thoughts about the Saints heading into training camp.

We’ll run out one question a day in a hope that we satiate your thirst until actual toe meets leather. The questions are in no particular order.

18. Can Sedrick Ellis play up to his potential?
Sedrick Ellis came to the Saints as the seventh overall pick in the 2008 draft. How coveted was he? The Saints traded their No. 10 and No. 78 pick to New England for the No. 7 and No. 164 pick.

In an unrelated note, the Saints took Carl Nicks with the No. 164 pick, so they came out ahead there as Nicks became one of the top offensive linemen in the NFL.

Back on topic, though, Ellis was thought to be the guy who could change things around on the defensive line.

It hasn’t necessarily worked out that way.

He has played a full season only once (2010), missing parts of 2008 after knee surgery, 2009 with a knee injury and a game in 2011 with a hamstring strain.

In four seasons, he has 220 career tackles but only 12½ sacks, including only a half-sack this past season. The Saints run defense has been average at best, ranking no better than 12th in 2011, though 29th in yards per rush, and as low as 21st in 2009.

But you can’t blame the run defense on one person and this looks to be Ellis’ breakout season.

He’s in a contract year, which is always good news. He’s with a new defensive coordinator, Steve Spagnuolo, who will in theory put his defensive linemen in more play-making spots.

And more importantly, he’ll be paired again at times with the partner he has been most successful playing next to.

Though the Saints signed Brodrick Bunkley this offseason, it could be the re-acquisition Remi Ayodele who helps Ellis the most. In 2010, when Ellis and Ayodele both played together the most, the Saints were the toughest team in the NFL to run against at right guard and fourth-toughest up the middle according to one widely-used NFL statistical website.

In speaking with Ellis this offseason, the former Southern California standout seemed reenergized and re-enthused, excited to be playing under Spagnuolo. He’s again playing next to Ayodele and he was extremely complimentary of Bunkley.

The question, though, is will he play up to his potential? He might play well and have his best season since he was a rookie, but he might never meet the lofty status the Saints hoped he would attain when they drafted him.

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