- Associated Press - Monday, July 27, 2015

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (7-9)

OPEN CAMP: July 29, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.

LAST YEAR: Saints failed to qualify for playoffs. QB Drew Brees tied for NFL lead in yards passing with 4,952. But he also threw 17 interceptions, five more than in 2013. Saints struggled most defensively, ranking second-to-last in NFL. Coach Sean Payton responded by adding Dennis Allen as senior defensive assistant coach and purging roster of several players.

IMPORTANT ADDITIONS: RB C.J. Spiller; C Max Unger; CB Brandon Browner; LBs Dannell Ellerbe, Anthony Spencer and Hau’oli Kikaha; DT Kevin Williams; T Andrus Peat.

IMPORTANT LOSSES: TE Jimmy Graham; OLB Junior Galette; WR Kenny Stills; LG Ben Grubbs; RB Pierre Thomas; LB Curtis Lofton; CBs Patrick Robinson and Corey White; K Shayne Graham.

CAMP NEEDS: Payton and Brees will have to figure out how to replace 148 catches for 1,820 yards and 13 TDs Graham and Stills combined for last season. In addition, departure of Thomas, who had 45 catches for 378 yards, removes reliable check-down option. Saints will look to Spiller as similar type of run-pass threat Thomas was. New Orleans also wants young TE Josh Hill to build on promising 2014 season and pair with veteran Ben Watson to make position credible passing target. Defensively, making up for loss of Galette’s 10 sacks last season could fall on Spencer and rookie Kikaha. Tim Lelito and Senio Kelemete are competing to replace Grubbs.

EXPECTATIONS: If 36-year-old Brees stays healthy, he has proved over past decade he can make Payton’s offense among NFL’s best, regardless who is running pass routes. With addition of Browner and return of former Pro Bowl S Jairus Byrd from injury, secondary should be better. If New Orleans also can mount pass rush, defense could improve markedly, giving Saints chance to be more competitive.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL


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