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1. Jermon Bushrod, Brian de la Puente, Ben Grubbs, Jahri Evans, Zach Strief
2. Marcel Jones, Eric Olsen, Andrew Tiller, Matt Tennant, Charles Brown
There was a huge hole for the Saints at left guard when Carl Nicks departed for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a massive contract. Regardless, this team still has plenty of talent on the line protecting Brees from opposing defenses.
With the Saints pulling in Ben Grubbs from the Baltimore Ravens, the spot left by Carl Nicks should be held in check for the meantime. I feel that halfway through the season, Grubbs will have had us all forget about the departed Nicks. Grubbs has a big season ahead.
Behind him, Eric Olsen won't be expected to stand out more than he has in the past. Expect him not to see much playing time, barring major injury.
Last year, a big surprise was Brian de la Puente, who will be the unquestionable start at center this year, with the disappointing Matt Tennant backing him up. Tennant had his chance to snag the spot last year and lost out to Mr. de la Puente.
Of course, over at right guard Jahri Evans has already proven to be an effective and quality product. Already one of the highest paid guards in the NFL, Evans has seen his share of Pro Bowl time.
Backing him up will be the rookie Andrew Tiller, a Syracuse Orangeman. He's a sixth-round pick we should all keep an eye on.
NFL.com has him pegged as a potential backup, and I believe he'll end up winning the spot. According to NFL.com's draft analysis:
Tiller makes his mark as a run blocker. Although not very explosive, he is generally able to move defensive linemen out of the play if he can get his hands on them. Size and strength are the shining attributes of his game.
Rounding out the offensive line are Jermon Bushrod and Zach Strief, consistent, capable starters for this team. Bushrod was even selected to his first Pro Bowl last year. Expect them to continue their quality play on the offensive line.
Backups Charles Brown and Marcel Jones (a rookie) shouldn't be expected to see much burn at the spot. Brown has been a major disappointment for the team, after every opportunity was handed to him.