Green Bay, Wis. – The New Orleans Saints have shown during their four-game winning streak that there are play-makers all over the lineup, and that anyone can make an impact on a given snap. Again, there were standouts aplenty in the 26-17 victory over Green Bayat Lambeau Field and, again, it's difficult to narrow down to a singular person in the top-player categories.
OFFENSE:It would be easy to go with running back Mark Ingram II, who posted his second consecutive 100-yard rushing day (22 carries for 105 yards and a touchdown) and has run for 219 yards and three touchdowns, on 47 carries, in two games since Adrian Peterson was traded. Or how about offensive lineman Senio Kelemete? In the third quarter, he came in at right guard to replace injured Larry Warford. Kelemete now has played right tackle, right guard and left guard for the Saints this season and if you're handing out MVP awards for the offense right now, he'd be a low-key, but deserving, candidate. But it was a breakout offensive game for receiver Ted Ginn Jr. – seven catches for 141 yards, including a 40-yarder on which he had to come back and make a diving grab, and a 47-yard, catch-and-run on which he transformed a short dump off into much more simply because, at the age of 32, he still appears to be the fastest man on the field. Ginn is a home run threat and when he plays the way he did against the Packers, it's easy to see why the Saints signed him as a free agent.
DEFENSE:Again, a host of deserving candidates. Safety Kenny Vaccaro(an interception, pass defended and four tackles) likely is playing as well as he has at any point in his career; his three picks this season, in six games, already is a single-season high for him. And rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimoredoesn't just look the part. He is the part. His numbers (three tackles and a pass defended) simply don't add up to the shutdown ability that he's exhibiting. He was the consensus top cornerback in the NFL Draft, the Saints openly were pleased when he slid into their lap in the first round and Lattimore continues to play like a top-five caliber pick (which is the range in which some projections had him being selected). Still, defensive end Alex Okaforis the choice because he continues to be a disruptive force. He registered the Saints' only sack of Packers quarterback Brett Hundley and caused a fumble in the process. Okafor did the same thing seven days earlier against the Detroit when he sacked Matthew Stafford and caused a fumble, which Vaccaro recovered for a touchdown. The Saints didn't recover Hundley's fumble, but Okafor is showing time and again that he was a good investment in the offseason. He's proving to be a good bookend to Cam Jordan.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Tommylee Lewisgave the Saints a needed injection to open the second half. The diminutive receiver ran back the kickoff 39 yards and put the Saints in excellent field position to begin the third quarter, and it was cashed in via a seven-play, 59-yard touchdown drive that pulled New Orleans to within 14-13. That was the signature special team play for the Saints against the Packers; a few others, they'll want to forget. Ginn had difficulty cleanly fielding punts, and Wil Lutzhad a point-after attempt blocked (an element of the kicking game that the Saints had trouble with early last season). Missteps in those areas, hopefully, are easy corrections. Those missteps can become much more costly than they were against the Packers.