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 of importance…except for No. 1.
8. Will Darren Sproles have the same impact he had in 2011?
When the Saints traded Reggie Bush in quiet of one late July night last year, there was some question as to how the Saints would replace him.
They got their answer quickly – New Orleans recruited, signed and displayed Darren Sproles
Some are probably wondering why this couldn’t have happened earlier. All the Tasmanian devil did was set an NFL record for all-purpose yards in a season with 2,696, besting Derrick Mason’s 11-year-old record by six yards.
Bush’s previous three years combined don’t even total what Sproles did in 2011, though the former Saints running back had 107 fewer touches on average in that period.
But this isn’t about Bush.
Sproles is a different type of athlete, one who plays through pain and does whatever he can to gain positive yards using his smaller frame and quick burst speed.
In 2011, he led the team with 603 rushing yards, which was a career high. He was second in the NFL in yards after contact receiving with 724. And he was 7th in the NFL on third down receiving (tops among running backs) with 25 catches for 225 yards and two touchdowns.
He had at least 175 all-purpose yards in seven of the team’s regular season games.
And there’s no reason to believe that there will be a big drop-off this season. From 2007-10, Sproles averaged 2,065 all-purpose yards.
With Marques Colston, Jimmy Graham, Lance Moore and Pierre Thomas all returning, it’s just as likely that the Saints’ offense will be as dynamic as it was in 2011. While teams have had an entire offseason to game-plan for New Orleans, Sproles shows no signs of slowing down.