With the departure of three-year starter Brian De La Puente to the Chicago Bears this offseaon, one of the must-watch position battles in 2014 New Orleans Saints Training Camp presented by Verizon is center.
The two leading candidates are Jonathan Goodwin and Tim Lelito.
Goodwin, 6-3, 318, returns to New Orleans, where he played from 2006-10, after serving as the starting center of the San Francisco 49ers from 2011-13. Originally selected by the New York Jets in the fifth round (154th overall) of the 2002 NFL Draft, Goodwin has appeared in 181 career regular season games with 106 starts, 93 taking place at center. He's a veteran of 16 postseason contests, opening the last 12 games. The durable Goodwin has opened 86 consecutive games, third most among active NFL centers.
Signed as a free agent out of Grand Valley State last offseason, Tim Lelito secured a roster spot with his performance in training camp and appeared in all 16 regular season games as a rookie with two starts at right guard.
Lelito started at right guard in the Saints primetime 17-13 win at the Atlanta Falcons in Week 12 when the Saints only gave up one sack. Two days prior to the Falcons contest, Lelito attended his grandmother's funeral, the woman who adopted him and raised him, in Fowlerville, Mich.
Photos of C Jonathan Goodwin with the New Orleans Saints. Photos by Michael C. Hebert.