This week, I sat down with Dave who runs Canal Street Chronicles -- a Sports Blog Nation site that blogs the New Orleans Saints -- for tonight's game at Paul Brown Stadium. You can read my responses to Dave's questions at his site.
1) Recently acquired tight end Jeremy Shockey is expected to make his first appearance this weekend against the Bengals. How is his transition into the Saints offense, will he be a distraction and what's the general pulse from Saints fans?
We don't have too much info to go on as far as Shockey's transition. When he first arrived, he was taking part in practices, then was being held out for a while. This week was the first time he returned to the field to get some reps but I think he is ready to go. He is exactly what Sean Payton's offense needs with a quarterback like Drew Brees, particularly in the red zone and I am expecting big things from him. I really and truly don't think he will be a distraction. Seems to me that Shockey had some personal problems with the Giants organization and the coaching staff. I don't think Shockey ever really respected Coughlin and that doesn't seem to be the case with Sean Payton. He seems to really respect Payton and if he gets a chance to be an important part of this offense like everyone is expecting, he should be happy. I also think he now has a take charge leader in Drew Brees at quarterback. Eli doesn't seem to be the type of person who can handle a loud mouth like Shockey. Drew does. I hope I don't wind up eating my words.
2) I remember in the draft, the Bengals were leap-fogged by the Saints so you guys could pick up Sedrick Ellis -- the Bengals biggest target. What's your impressions of Ellis to this point in pre-season?
Yeah we did! Wasn't that great? I like Ellis. He has looked pretty good so far even though he came to camp late. We're still waiting for him to notch his first sack, but he's been in on a few plays and applied some good pressure in the first two games. He will constantly draw comparisons to his counterpart Glen Dorsey and I really think that when we are looking back at this, Ellis will prove the better pick. I think he is the real deal.
3) The Bengals and Saints have a similar two-back style. Whereas Deuce McAllister and Rudi Johnson are similar pounding the ball, Reggie Bush and Chris Perry bring a ton of intangibles. Two of the last three seasons, McAllister has suffered long-lasting injuries. Does McAllister figure to be a factor this season like he's been in the past, or are they basically using a running back by committee with Reggie Bush?
Last week against Houston we got our first chance to see Deuce run and gauge his recovery and things are looking good. He had a few runs and on one, made a nice cut back. That single cut has a lot of Saints fans excited. Tonight's game will be even more revealing. The hope, obviously, is that he is as good as new but I'm not sure that will be the reality. I think he could get 10-15 touches a game. If something goes wrong and he has a set back, I would like to see the Saints stick with that same running philosophy by plugging in Pierre Thomas or Aaron Stecker and continue to have Reggie doing the intangible things like running to the outside and doing a 720 degree flip into the endzone, as opposed to making Reggie the every down back.
4) This one is primarily for Bengals fans. I read that Kevin Kaesviharn is fighting for a starting job. For the Bengals, Kaesviharn always found a way to impact the game. How's your impression of him been?
Well, I remember K2 when I saw him play against the Saints in 2006 and he had an interception in the endzone and 1.5 sacks. I hated him! Unfortunately, I don't think he made as much of an impact while wearing the black and gold. He is expected to start alongside Roman Harper this season, which is a good sign of improvement, though I wouldn't say the competition for the spot is very tough. Hopefully after this season I will have a more positive answer for you because our cornerbacks need all the help over the top they can get.
5) Jonathan Vilma was acquired this off-season. How has he looked?
Vilma is another one like Deuce wherein last week's game against Houston was the first chance we have gotten to see him play. It's been a while since he's played football so I think he's a little rusty. Once he's warmed up a bit, we are all expecting him to be an integral part to turning this defense around. From what I did see of him in last weeks game, it seems like he has great instincts and covers a lot of the field. On one play, he failed to bite on a play action and then immediately ran all the way back into the secondary to help in coverage. He wound up being the closest man to the receiver by the time the ball go there. I was impressed. As far as the injury is concerned, I think he's pretty close to 100% or at least will be by week one.