Below is an overview prior to the start of training camp of the New Orleans Saints running backs and wide receivers. Drew Brees' perimeter players enjoyed an extremely productive 2009 with contributions not limited to a select group of players. This consistency among the whole group has played a key role in the Saints scoring a club record and NFL-high 510 points and finishing first in the league in yards per game.
RUNNING BACKS (9) Returners:RB Pierre Thomas, RB Reggie Bush, RB Lynell Hamilton, FB Heath Evans, FB Marcus Mailei Offseason veteran addition:FB Jason McKie (FA), P.J. Hill (WAI-Was), Zak Keasey (FA), Draft choices/Rookie free agents:Chris Ivory (FA)Departures from 2009:RB Mike Bell.* *
WORTH NOTHING:The Saints return three of their top four rushers from last season including Thomas* **who led the squad with 793 rushing yards on 147 carries (5.4 avg.).
Thomas' 5.4 yards-per-carry average ranked fourth in the NFL last season and was second-best in franchise history. Bush* **continues to be one of the league's most multi-talented weapons. He rushed for 390 yards on 70 carries (5.6 avg.) and made 47 receptions for 335 yards. He scored eight touchdowns last year and became only the second active NFL player to score at least 10 touchdowns each by rushing and receiving in his first four seasons in the league.
Hamilton* **played in nine regular season games last season. He posted 125 rushing yards and two touchdowns along with five receptions for 48 yards.
Evans* **looks to bounce back after his first season with the Saints came to an abrupt end when he tore his ACL in week seven at Miami (Oct. 25). He stated five of the six games he played and rushed five times for 16 yards (3.2 avg.) along with 10 receptions for 70 yards (7.0 yards).
Mailei* **played at Atlanta (Dec. 13) and against Dallas (Dec. 19), primarily on special teams, before landing on injured reserve.
*McKie joins the Saints after spending most of his eight-year NFL career with the Chicago Bears following brief stints with Dallas and Philadelphia. He served as the Bears' starting fullback for the past four seasons.
Hill* **was originally signed by the Saints as a college free agent following the 2009 NFL Draft, but returns after spending part of the 2009 season on the active rosters of Philadelphia and Washington, starting the year on the New Orleans practice squad.
Keasey* **comes to New Orleans with two years of experience of having both played fullback and been a solid contributor on special teams. The veteran appeared in 20 games with three starts for the San Francisco 49ers and the Washington Redskins, transitioning from linebacker to fullback after moving his career west.
Ivory* **signed with the Saints as a rookie free agent in May. He played his senior season at Division II Tiffin University, where he carried 39 times for 223 yards in five games after transferring from Washington State.
Receivers (11) Returners:Marques Colston, Rod Harper, Courtney Roby, Lance Moore, Robert Meachem, Devery Henderson, Adrian ArringtonOffseason veteran addition:), Larry Beavers (FA), Draft choices/Rookie free agents:Andy Tanner (FA), Matt Simon (FA)¸Montez Billings (FA)* *
WORTH NOTHING: The Saints passing attack has been one of the league's most dangerous over the past four years with Colston, Meacham, Henderson and Moore highlighting the crew.
Colston* **led the squad in receptions (70) and receiving yards (1,074) in 2009, the third 1,000-yard season of his four-year career. He tied Meacham with a team-best nine touchdowns.
Henderson* **is one of the NFL's top deep threats; averaging an NFL-best 20.4 yards per catch since 2006. The LSU product had the best season of his six-year career in 2009 as he played in all 16 games, with 11 starts, and wracked up career-highs in receptions (51) and receiving yards (804) for a 15.8 yards-per-catch average.
Meachem* **had a breakout season in 2009 by totaling career highs in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns (10). He led the team in scores (10) and tied Colston for a club-best nine receiving touchdowns, which ranked 10th in the NFL.
After having a career year in 2008 (79 receptions, 928 yards and 10 touchdowns), Moore's* **2009 campaign was plagued by injuries. He played in seven games and caught 14 balls for 153 yards with two scores.
Robyand Harper *have yet to see significant playing time in the passing game but each has demonstrated big play ability on special teams. Roby joined the team last September and became the team's kick returner averaging 27.5 yards on 42 returns, including a 97-yard touchdown at Tampa (Nov. 22). He ranked second on the team with 20 tackles on special teams.
*Harper proved to be a special teams spark in the 2009 preseason by returning two punts for scores but a foot injury sidelined him for the regular season.
Arrington* **looks to battle for a roster spot after he spent the entire 2009 regular season on the practice squad and spent his rookie year on injured reserve due to a toe injury.
Beavers* **spent time on Carolina's practice squad last season. He could prove to be asset on special teams as a returner or gunner as he is arguably one of the fastest players entering training camp. The Wesley College alum holds the NCAA all-division records for kick return touchdowns with 10 and total return touchdowns with 13.
Tannerplayed in 38 games at Division II Midwestern State, catching 120 passes for 1,716 yards and 20 touchdowns. Simon *spent time on the Saints practice squad last season after he appeared in 44 games with 17 starts over four seasons at NIU with 96 receptions for 1,660 yards and eight touchdowns.
Billings* **played in 34 career games over three seasons for the Tigers, catching a total of 55 passes for 645 yards with a touchdown.