The Washington Times - July 8, 2009, 08:38AM

22. New Orleans Saints

Coach: Sean Payton (fourth year)

SEE RELATED:


Last year: 8-8 (allowed 29 or more points in six losses).

NFL rankings: Offense – first in yards and first in points; Defense – 23rd in yards and 26th in points.

Additions: CB Jabari Greer, FB Heath Evans, DE Paul Spicer, S Darren Sharper, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and rookie CB Malcolm Jenkins.

Substractions: RB Deuce McAllister, CB Josh Bullocks, FB Mike Karney, CB Mike McKenzie.

Fantasy pick: QB Drew Brees. The numbers last year were eye-popping (5,069 yards, 34 TDs). Even if he comes close to meeting those marks, he’s worth a high draft pick.

Outlook: There’s nothing wrong with New Orleans passing game because Drew Brees back and Marques Colston is healthy. But the question is whether the Saints can run the ball and can the defense stop anybody? They were 28th last year in rushing and that was with McAllister as part of the equation. The top two backs are now Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush. Defensively, Williams has a tall task. The Saints allowed 393 points last year but Williams has added a couple new pieces – chiefly Sharper and Jenkins – to go with Jonathan Vilma and Will Smith.

Projected starters

Offense: QB Drew Brees, FB Heath Evans, RB Pierre Thomas, WR Marques Colston, WR Devery Henderson, TE Jeremy Shockey, LT Jammal Brown, LG Carl Nicks, C Jonathan Goodwin, RG Jahri Evans, RT Jon Stinchcomb.

Defense: LE Will Smith, DT Sedrick Ellis, DT Kendrick Clancy, RE Charles Grant, SLB Scott Fujita, MLB Jonathan Vilma, WLB Scott Shanle, CB Jabari Greer, SS Roman Harper, FS Darren Sharper, CB Malcolm Jenkins.

Specialists: K Garrett Hartley, P Glenn Pakulak, KR Pierre Thomas, PR Reggie Bush.

Projected record: 6-10 (third in NFC South). The Saints can score 30 points on anybody. Too bad that it might not be good enough in a few games. They face a difficult schedule (the entire AFC East and NFC East) along with two games apiece against Atlanta and Carolina. Half of their games are against 2008 playoff teams.

Ryan O’Halloran