NFL New Orleans Saints

5 Storylines To Follow During New Orleans Saints Training Camp

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Storylines To Follow During New Orleans Saints Training Camp

Derick E. Hingle-USA Today Sports

The New Orleans Saints were busted for Bountygate last season. A program in which they were paid to hurt people, but last season they paid and they hurt--metaphorically speaking.

The Saints had a lot of losses, but none worse than head coach Sean Payton. In addition to losing Payton for the year, the Saints were also without interim head coach Joe Vitt for the first six games.

I've always said that a good coach is worth 2-3 wins. The Saints went 7-9, you do the math.

Of course, there's still the problem of the defense. A defense that wasn't just bad, but historically bad. The 2012 Saints defense gave up the most yards ever in the history of the NFL.

Obviously with such a terrible defense, changes would be made and the Saints did just that. New defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, along with Keenan Lewis and first round pick Kenny Vaccaro should help at least make the defensive unit respectable again.

The road back to contention won’t be an easy one, the NFC South is absolutely stacked. The Atlanta Falcons nearly went to the Super Bowl last season and added Steven Jackson in the backfield. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won’t be an easy out with a reworked secondary spearheaded by Darrelle Revis and Dashon Goldson. And the Carolina Panthers always give the Saints troubles. If that wasn’t bad enough, the Saints have to play all the NFC West teams. Like I said before, it’s not going to be easy.

Here are five stories to keep an eye on for the rest of training camp.

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The Return Of Sean Payton

Derick E. Hingle-USA Today Sports

Like I mentioned in the intro, Sean Payton’s return should have a huge impact on the team. No matter how much talent there is on a team, they’re going to struggle with an interim-interim coach. Will Payton be the Payton of old? Can he get this team back into contention in a very strong division? Should be interesting to follow for the remainder of training camp and into the season.

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Rob Ryan And The 3-4

Derick E. Hingle-USA Today Sports

With Rob Ryan comes a new aggressive 3-4 scheme. Kenyon Coleman and Victor Butler were both brought in specifically for Ryan’s new scheme, but both are out for the year. Guys like Will Smith and Junior Galette have had lots of success rushing the passer as defensive ends in the 4-3 scheme. Whether or not they can have the same success as outside linebackers in the 3-4 remains to be seen. Free agent Mark Anderson might be worth a look.

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New Secondary

Derick E. Hingle-USA Today Sports

The Saints secondary was awful last year, like the rest of the defense. Like I mentioned before, free agent CB Keenan Lewis and rookie FS Kenny Vaccaro should help improve the unit. Any improvement would be good obviously, but if this unit can limit the big plays and keep Drew Bress and company in games... need I say more?

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Can Steve Breaston Fill The No. 3 WR Role?

Danny Medley-USA Today Sports

The Saints took a big hit early in training camp losing No. 3 receiver Joe Morgan. The mourning period wasn’t long as they signed free agent Steve Breaston. Breaston has been a little banged up the past few years and suffered through bad QBs like Kevin Kolb and John Skelton the past few years. If Breaston’s healthy there's no reason to believe that he can’t repeat the success he had a few years ago with Kurt Warner. Drew Brees makes stars and resurrects careers.

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Can Mark Ingram Finally Live Up To Expectations?

Chuck Cook-USA Today Sports

The Saints gave a up a lot to snag Mark Ingram in the 2011 Draft. Ingram has been a disappointment thus far as he was drafted to be the big banger back. The third year may be a charm, though, as Ingram could move up the depth chart with the recent injury to Pierre Thomas. We all know how good the passing game is for the Saints, but if Ingram can finally live up to his potential, this offense could be near unstoppable.