With the departure of Pro Bowl tackle Jermon Bushrod to the Chicago Bears this offseason, one of the most intriguing storylines heading into training camp is the battle for the left tackle position.
At the start of organized team actives last April, Coach Sean Payton called the left tackle position “a great example of a job that is wide open.”
Brown is the member of the trio that the Saints are most familiar with after drafting him in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft. Brown has appeared in 21 games in his three-year career, starting eight contests over the past two seasons. The USC standout has been limited by injuries though, as he has been placed on Injured Reserve each of the past two seasons (2012 – knee, 2011 – hip pointer).
Smith signed a one-year deal with the Saints last April after spending the 2012 season with the New York Jets. The 6-5, 308-pound lineman was originally chosen by the St. Louis Rams as the second overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft out of Baylor. Smith has appeared in 45 career games with 26 starts at both right and left tackle. Prior to being acquired by the Jets at the conclusion of training camp in 2012, Smith played tackle for his first three seasons in St. Louis. Former Rams running back Steven Jackson exceeded 1,100 yards rushing each year Smith played.
Armstead was selected by the Saints in the third round (75th overall) of the 2013 NFL Draft. Possessing tremendous strength and speed, Armstead used his athletic ability to compete in both football and track and field at Arkansas-Pine Bluff. He appeared in 37 career games, while starting his final 32 contests protecting the quarterback’s blindside from the left tackle position. With solid footwork and a light first step, Armstead stood out at the Senior Bowl and impressed scouts across the National Football League by running the fastest time in the 40-yard dash (4.71) by an offensive lineman in the history of the NFL Scouting Combine.
Sean Payton on the left tackle battle (April 17, 2013):
“Hopefully the guys that have a chance to compete for that position step up and someone separates themselves. That kind of thing happened when (Jermon) Bushrod came into that position in our scrimmages against the Texans (in 2009). We lost our starter there and Jermon stepped in and really earned the spot and became our starting left tackle for quite a while. I think time will tell. We have some guys that will get reps at that position. Hopefully it’s an easy decision and someone separates themselves.”