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Lyons Yellin / WWLTV.com Sports Reporter
Email: lyellin@wwltv.com | Twitter: @wwltvsports

NEW ORLEANS -- For the first time since the 2009 season, the Saints' offseason hasn't been mired in issues stemming from Bountygate.

That's right. All the talk about the scandal that resulted from the team's bounty program during the run-up to Super Bowl XLVI in 2010 is over. Punishments have been doled out, suspensions served, penance paid and a roster remade, void of those with a staring role in the affair.

By all accounts, there's been a renewed sense of normalcy surrounding the Saints this offseason, an offseason that comes to an end Thursday as the team begins a three-week stretch of training camp at the Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.

No more Jimmy Graham contract talk. That's one issue that's been put to bed at least for the next four years.

On paper, the roster now looks to be among the league's best, one certainly capable of making another Super Bowl run.

That's a long way off, though, with much still to be settled between now and the season-opener at Atlanta on Sept. 7.

Players report Thursday for meetings, physicals and conditioning tests, thus beginning their march towards the season, which they hope ends in Glendale, Arizona, site of Super Bowl XLIX.

Here are a few position battles shaping up as training camp begins.

1. Center: Tim Lelito vs. Jonathan Goodwin

It's the youngster vs. the seasoned vet.

The Saints are high on Lelito, a 6-foot-4, 315-pound converted guard from Grand Valley State, despite his inexperience. He appeared in just three games as a rookie last season, starting two.

On a roster with very few holes, the Saints can ill afford to have one in the middle of their offensive line, hence Goodwin's return after three years in San Francisco. During his last stint with the Saints from 2008 to 2010, Goodwin was a Pro Bowler and stalwart contributor on one of the best lines in football.

What remains to be seen is whether he can continue to produce at that same level after 13 seasons. 2. Defensive back: Who's the fourth starter?

There won't be much of battle for three spots in the secondary. Those belong to prized free agent Jarius Byrd and returning starters Kenny Vacarro and Keenan Lewis. That fourth spot, well, that's one could offer considerable drama as several players with varying levels of experience battle for that final spot.

The contenders: Champ Bailey, Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Corey White and Patrick Robinson.

While the favorite has to be Bailey, a sure-fire Hall of Famer with 52 career interceptions, he's coming off an injury-plagued season and isn't the shutdown corner of yesteryears. This opens the door for White, who started six games last season, or rookie Jean-Baptiste. White has struggled at times, but has improved in each of his first two seasons.

At 6-foot-3 and 218 pounds, Jean-Baptiste has drawn comparisons to Seattle's Richard Sherman. Moreover, Jean-Baptiste, a second-round selection from Nebraska, is type of big, physical defensive back who can help combat the league's larger receivers.

Robinson is returning from a gruesome Week 2 knee injury and is a long shot to win the job.

3. Kicker: Shyne Graham vs. Derek Dimke

This is another battle that pits a veteran against youngster.

Graham stepped in last season after the team released Garrett Hartley following a Week 15 loss to the Rams in which he missed two field goals. Graham's game-winning field goal as time expired against Philadelphia in the playoffs probably earned him some goodwill.

Dimke, who played his college ball at Illinios, is looking to catch on with the Saints after failing to make Tampa Bay's regular-season roster in 2013 and Detroit's the year before.

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