New Orleans Saints: 3 Starting Jobs That Will Be Up for Grabs

Andres BoteroCorrespondent IJuly 17, 2012

New Orleans Saints: 3 Starting Jobs That Will Be Up for Grabs

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    The New Orleans Saints players will report to training camp July 24 in preparation for the upcoming season.

    With training camp drawing near, it's very hard to predict the final 53 man roster, let alone which players will start for the Saints. 

    You never know who will surprise the coaches and possibly win a starting job.

    Here are some positions which are open and some players that may surprise you. 

Martez Wilson as Defensive End

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    Due to some position juggling and an unfortunate injury, Martez Wilson's chances to start as defensive end rose this month. 

    Mike Triplett of the Times-Picayune wrote in a June report that Will Smith and Cameron Jordan have been used at defensive tackle in certain formations.

    If the Saints decide to use him as a tackle, that will free up some more playing time for Wilson at defensive end.

    Brian Allee-Walsh of reported that Greg Romeus tore his ACL and MCL while running at an OTA. Romeus will miss the 2012 season.

    Romeus was expected to compete for one of the end positions after missing last season while he recuperated from another ACL tear.

    The good news is that Wilson's switch from outside linebacker to defensive end has been seamless.

    The coaching staff has been impressed with Wilson at defensive end and believe that his athleticism and linebacker skills allow him to create opportunities at the line of scrimmage to rush the quarterback, reports Allee-Walsh.

    If Wilson continues at this pace, his chances to start will continue to rise. 

Corey White as Nickel Corner

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    Bleacher Reports columnist Will Osgood wrote about the upcoming battle between Corey White (photo listed above) and Johnny Patrick for the nickel corner job. 

    Osgood wrote that if Patrick wins, White's next position would be as a safety, but the Saints already have numerous players who can play that.

    With that, White and Patrick will be working hard to get that starting nickel job.

    Along with Osgood, Times-Picayune writer Mike Triplett wrote in this column:

    The nickel cornerback job should also be considered a starting job in today's pass-happy NFL. Second-year pro Johnny Patrick is getting the first crack at it.

    Patrick is the front-runner for the position.

    His growth as a player last year was a part of the reason why the front office let go of Tracy Porter and Leigh Torrence this offseason, Triplett reports.

    He played in nine games and was a member of the Special Teams Unit.

    With the emphasis on zone coverage in Spagnuolo's defense, it will be tough to see which of these guys will ultimately win out. 

    Even though Patrick has been labeled the starter, it remains to be seen how true that is. White has more to lose because his backup position is already filled. 

    With that extra incentive plus the focus being on Patrick, White may pull off a surprising role reversal and become starter.

Darren Sproles as Running Back

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    One of the reasons the Saints' offense is so effective is that it creates scenarios for ideal for power runners like Thomas, Ingram and Ivory as well as sweeps and runs that require more agility and speed, which is Sproles' specialty.

    The platoon of running backs adds versatility to the Saints' pass heavy offense.

    Sproles will have more carries as a running back now because receiver Joe Morgan might become the new kick returner, reported here by Bleacher Report columnist Will Osgood. 

    Speaking to John DeSazier of the Times-Picayune, Sproles was concerned that his role last year was as a running back who could catch:

    It's like, my role was to come in and catch passes," he said. "What I need to work on is more running the ball, like the hard-nosed runners.

    I only had certain types of runs, and I want to go in and run power (plays) sometimes. That will keep the defense honest.

     It seems highly unlikely that any one of the running backs will become the outright starter.

    But I think with Sproles refocusing his running game since he no longer has the responsibility as a kick returner, he will become a more dangerous option out of the backfield.