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New Orleans Saints: 10 Topics to Ponder While Waiting for NFL Lockout to End

Chris Ivory (#29)Chris Ivory (#29)

Will Saints RB Chris Ivory bounce back in 2011 from offseason surgery?

NEW ORLEANS – As the NFL Lockout rolls on and July 4th is upon us, look at the bright side -- at least NFL owners and players are racking up plenty of frequent flyer miles and hotel points as they traverse the country looking for the right spot to strike a deal.

Next stop on their whirlwind negotiations tour is the Big Apple on Tuesday.
Think positive New Orleans Saints fans, cross your fingers and keep an open mind. A deal is forthcoming. It’s only a matter of time.
Meantime, here are 10 things for Who Dat Nation to ponder during the interim:
(1) How quickly will rookie RB Mark Ingram (D1b) make the transition from college to the NFL? Don’t look for the coaching staff to spoon feed him. If the Kid can handle it, why not give him the ball with the first unit?
(2) The health of numerous players who are coming off surgery – RB Pierre Thomas, RB Chris Ivory, WR Marques Colston, CB Tracy Porter, RT Jon Stinchcomb, P Thomas Morstead and LB Jonathan Casillas, among others.
(3) Will Saints Coach Sean Payton go after a home-run WR in free agency to complement Colston, Robert Meachem, Devery Henderson and perhaps Lance Moore? One man’s opinion: All four will not be on the 2011 opening-day roster.
(4) Speaking of Moore, if given a chance to shop himself in free agency, I hope he remembers one simple thing: Drew Brees makes everyone around him better, including Lance Moore.
(5) Where is RB Reggie Bush’s head, not to mention his heart and soul? We know what GM Mickey Loomis and Payton have said but what are they really thinking? Time will tell. Note to RB25: Give the Heisman Trophy back!
(6) In addition to Ingram, I am anxious to see three draft picks on the field: DE Cameron Jordan (D1a), OLB Martez Wilson (D3a) and DE Greg Romeus (D7a). Just their presence alone from a depth standpoint should help Gregg Williams' defense.
(7) Am anxious to see the physical condition of 10-year veteran defensive tackle Shaun Rogers, a free agent from Cleveland who inked a one-year, $4 million deal way back on Feb. 28. His contract calls for a $2.5 million base salary (of which $1 million is guaranteed), a $500,000 signing bonus, numerous roster bonuses worth $370,000 and a $630,000 weight bonus which calls for him to keep his playing weight at a maximum of 350 pounds. He reportedly weighed around 375 at the time of his signing. It is not known if he participated in the players-only workouts at Tulane University. I hope he's in shape because the weather in New Orleans in late July and August is not something to take lightly.
(8) If the lockout persists and eats away at training camp and preseason games, will team officials attempt to re-sign their own free agents (FS Darren Sharper, LB Scott Shanle, among others) or go elsewhere for help? If the price is right for the team, the answer is yes.
(9) I will be monitoring the negotiations of LT Jermon Bushrod, who likely would command interest on the free agent market if deemed a free agent under a new CBA. Granted, he’s not an elite player yet, but he is a two-year starter and plays a highly-compensated position. Here’s hoping he and his agent don't get too greedy and push the envelope.
(10)  Finally, I will be keenly interested to see how this team takes to the role of the hunter instead of the hunted as was the case last season in light of winning Super Bowl XLIV. Losing to the Seattle Seahawks in the wildcard round is reason enough to go a hunting. Redemption replaces 2Dat!
 

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