The New Orleans Saints were a team that took a step back in 2012. Riddled by the Bountygate scandal, and a defense that couldn’t stop anybody, New Orleans limped to a 7-9 finish, and missed the playoffs for the first time in three years. So for the team to get back on track this year, all parts will have to be clicking on all cylinders. All of the role players need to play their roles to a tee. One such guy is the X-Factor – Darren Sproles.
While you can’t go as far to say that the Saints go how Sproles goes, he does have a big impact on the outcome of games. When he’s on top of things, the Saints have a much better chance of winning. That’s why x-factors have their name, because the players are often times streaky, and not consistent and reliable every week.
Sproles was slowed by injuries in 2012, and subsequently his yards from scrimmage total dropped about 400 yards from 2011. Still, he nearly racked up 1,000 yards (911).
With Mark Ingram figuring to get the bulk of the carries in the Saints’ backfield this year, Sproles should continue to be heavily involved in the passing game. That’s his niche, and you can expect to see more of the same in 2013. Although he was hurt for a portion of 2012, he’s been able to stay on the field for most of his career. However, it should be noted that Sproles turns 30 here in a few weeks.
Given that he does spend most of his time catching passes, I don’t think the 30-mark is as big of a concern. I expect him to be back doing what he does for the Saints this year, and there’s no question the team needs every bit of production they can get from him. X-factors can be the difference between a win or a loss on any Sunday, and one win can be the difference between playing in the postseason or not.
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