5 New Orleans Saints Role Players Who Will Most Affect the Outcome of the Season
Probably not the way a team wants to go about its season, but it is what it is.
A clear lack of stability means that the team's superstars will have to have superstar-type seasons if they expect to make a run at the playoffs.
The instability also means that role players will have to step up to fill the void left behind. With 11 starters on both sides of the ball, the Saints have various players who could see themselves having career years.
Players who would generally be considered as role players.
With the season getting underway this week, let's take a look at five of the lesser known Saints players who will significantly affect the outcome of the season.
Darren Sproles: Running Back
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"He's at the 20! The 15! The 10! He, could, go, all, the, way...Touchdown!"
It might not sound as incredible in real life as it did when you read that, but chances are you will hear something along those lines a couple of times this year.
A few of them will come from a play that Darren Sproles makes.
It's difficult to come up with another player who can do as much in as many ways as Sproles does. In six years he has two kick returns for touchdown, eight rushing touchdowns, and 18 receiving touchdowns.
The man is straight up versatile and last year's season with the Saints was his most productive yet.
It'll be difficult to follow up his nine-touchdown regular season, but it's certainly not out of the question. He could have a major effect on the 2012-2013 Saints.
Mark Ingram: Running Back
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Two running backs on the list seems like a stretch, but Sproles and Mark Ingram couldn't be more different from each other.
Ingram has the ability to be a first and second down back because of his playing style. He is a grind it out until the big play is there kind of player and that compliments Sproles perfectly.
Don't expect Ingram to really shine until about week six. There will be some questions as to who fits into where best, but there will also come a time when Ingram will make his mark and show that he belongs as the starter.
He only saw 122 carries in 10 games last year so it'll certainly be new role for him. He'll also need to protect himself better so that he's able to play in more than 10 games.
It wouldn't be surprising to see Ingram as one of the top 15 running backs going into next year after this season's performance.
Lance Moore: Wide Receiver
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Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston are clearly the top two receiving threats for the Saints, but with a guy like Drew Brees at the helm, anybody on the field ends up having a chance at getting it thrown their way.
Lucky for Lance Moore, he's one of those men that gets to step onto the field with the talented Brees.
Moore's biggest advantage this year will be the absence of Robert Meachem. Meachem was a large target for Brees and caught 40 passes last year.
Where are those 40 balls going to be thrown this year?
Moore has 28 touchdowns in his past four seasons and it wouldn't be surprising to see a career year now that the field has opened up a bit without Meachem.
Cameron Jordan: Defensive End
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What a haircut! Really though, if you didn't notice it the first time, take another look because it's fantastic.
Cameron Jordan's hair alone should be enough for him to make the list, but his skills and production are what actually put him here.
Jordan was one of the Saints' 2011 first round draft picks and was able to make an immediate impact on the defensive line. He picked up his first sack of his career in the last game of the regular season, and was able to pick up six solo tackles in the NFC Divisional game.
He won't have to go through the same learning period as last year which should result in much more success. His production also picked up at the end of the year which could lead to early season success this season.
If he can stay healthy, expect Jordan to be a valuable player for this year's Saints squad.
Garrett Hartley: Kicker
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Trust me, I didn't want to put a kicker on this list just as much as you didn't want to read about one.
Here he is though.
Garrett Hartley could end up being one of the best kickers in the league this year and he should be acknowledged for that.
After testing positive for a banned substance in 2009 and missing all of last year due to a hip injury, it's safe to say that he has had a strange first four seasons in the league.
Even with all of that, he was still able to beat out John Kasay for the starting job in New Orleans during the preseason.
If he steps up to his potential and avoids making idiotic mistakes that have gotten his career off to a shaky start, then it's safe to say that he will end up being a major contributor for the Saints this year.