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John DeShazier's New Orleans Saints Mailbag

Senior writer from answers your questions

Check out the best photos of RB Tim Hightower against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday,October 30, 2016

Interesting New Orleans Saints Mailbag this week, to say the least. A couple of you enticed me to break from longstanding policy, a couple wanted a refresher and a few delved into the running back situation. Here we go:

@resseily: What did the Browns want for cornerback Joe Hadenand why didn't the Saints do it? Our defense needs all the secondary help it can get.

JD: My policy is to not comment on players who are under contract with other teams, but I'm going to set that aside for this one. I don't know what the Browns wanted. But, hypothetically, what if they'd requested Drew Brees, Michael Thomasand a second-round pick? How about Terron Armstead, Delvin Breauxand a first-round pick? Maybe a first-rounder, and three second-rounders? Do you consider those good prices that the Saints should've forked over? Not knowing what the Browns were asking for in a trade, and what value the Saints have on a player they may consider trading for, is impossible to determine unless the teams are willing to divulge that information. But given the fact that Haden remains a Brown, it seems safe to say that no team in the NFL was willing to meet the price that Cleveland was asking. So, perhaps, the price indeed was a steep one.

‏‏@BryanWTF80: Do you think we'll ever see tight end Jimmy Graham in a Saints uniform again?

JD: OK, this is twice I'm going to break with policy, but I'm tossing bones today. My answer? Never say never in this business. I thought right guard Senio Kelemetehad taken his last snap as a Saint when he was released last offseason, and now he's starting for the team again. The fact is that Graham's most productive years as an NFL player were in New Orleans, so there's reason for him to look upon his games as a Saint as the best in his career. But that would depend on the coach, general manager and Graham as to whether he ever would be a Saint again.

@David_Danzy: Will Terron Armstead get more carries than Mark Ingram II this week?

@BlueRacecar: Do you think Tim Hightower is going to be sharing more time with Mark Ingram this weekend? He seemed to play strong.

‏@Josh_Tanksley: Who is starting this week, Mark Ingramor Tim Hightower? Who is likely to get more carries?

JD: The safe bet is to assume that Hightower's workload will increase – given last week's performance by Hightower, the previous two weeks' performance by Ingram, and Coach Sean Payton'saffirmation that Hightower will get more touches. I don't know it that'll equate to more carries than Ingram or a start at running back (the Saints could start an empty backfield, or with fullback John Kuhnand no running back, or with third-down back Travaris Cadet). But I'd expect Hightower to be the first of the aforementioned duo to get a snap on offense and if he gets rolling (which could happen; San Francisco is last in the league in rushing defense) then he'll get the bulk of the work.

‏@ragenebarrett: Are cornerback Delvin Breaux and defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins eligible to play this week?

‏@status504: How do you think Sheldon Rankins and Delvin Breaux will play? Do you think they are at 90 to 100 percent?

‏@Im_PUNKIN: When will Sheldon Rankins and Delvin Breaux return?

JD: Rankins appears to be the more likely of the two to play Sunday, although Breaux said he's 115 percent and ready to go, also. Considering their respective injuries (broken fibulas), I don't think either would see game action until he had 100 percent medical clearance. 

‏@ReidGolson10: Would it be a stretch for the Saints to trade up in the draft next season to get LSU running back Leonard Fournette?

JD: Fournette is a magnificent talent and fabulous player. But Reid, do the Saints appear to be a team that's hurting offensively, or one that should deal away potential assets that could assist in the quest to improve defensively, in order to add to an offense that currently is ranked in the top two in passing yards (first), total yards (second), scoring (second) and third-down percentage (second)? And that has ranked in the top five or six in all those categories since 2006? Anything is possible, and by the end of the season the Saints could feel the defense is playing to its potential. Chasing Fournette might – might – make sense then. But moving the ball and scoring on offense hasn't been a problem for the Saints in years, regardless of whether the running backs have been former Heisman Trophy winners (Mark Ingram) or undrafted rookies (Pierre Thomas).

‏@greg_slow: Any chance that the 2017 game in London will have a fan zone, in order for fans to get some autographs and to meet the team?

JD: I don't know yet, Greg. My assumption is that there will be tons of fan interaction in some form, given that the league wants to market and promote the London games as much as possible. But I don't yet know how much, if any, interaction there will be with players (remember, they're there for work and their routine will mirror what they do here once they land). We'll all know more in the coming months, but I'm guessing those specifics won't be nailed down until after this season is completed.

‏@javisierrar: If there were no injuries on the team, who do you think should start this week on defense?

JD: The temptation is to say that based off the last two weeks, nothing at all should be changed with the starters or the rotation. Kansas City and Seattle have scored a combined 33 points on offense, were held to 326 and 359 yards, and combined to go 8 for 20 on third down. Those are numbers that any defense in the league would take and be happy with. But, since you asked, the one tweak I might lean toward would be Breaux and Sterling Moorewould start at cornerback (I'm assuming we're not talking players who are on injured reserve and not returning, like P.J. Williams), which strengthen the secondary. I wouldn't trade out Nick Fairleyfor Rankins yet at defensive tackle, considering the way Fairley has played. But just because one guy starts doesn't mean another doesn't play almost as many snaps, especially on the defensive line and potentially in the secondary, depending on how much a defense is in the sub-packages. So Ken Crawleyand B.W. Webb, who have been starting at corner and playing fine, still would see plenty of time.

‏@BaysideProject: Why isn't linebacker Stephone Anthony in the lineup more?

‏@50CAL_318:What is really going on with Stephone Anthony? He went from leading tackler last year, I think, to not knowing the defense.

JD: I've answered this question maybe five times in past mailbags. Coach Sean Paytonhas answered it a handful of times. Defensive coordinator Dennis Allenhas answered it three, four times. I'm not sure what else you guys want us to say on the matter. So – not trying to be mean – but not going there again. There's no meat left on that bone. Sorry.

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