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Five New Orleans Saints storylines to follow in training camp

Dennis Allen enters second season as head coach

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A few storylines to follow for the New Orleans Saints during training camp:

1. THE D.A. WAY – It's not that Coach Dennis Allen didn't have his stamp on the team during his first season as Saints head coach, but now he likely is much more comfortable in the role entering his second year. The changes to the coaching staff obviously have his fingerprints all over them, so there should be more uniformity among the staff. Of course, injuries can torpedo the best of plans, so he needs a season void of major injuries at key positions in order for the staff really to take advantage of a roster that has the makings of a playoff contender. He'll still direct a topnotch defense, and he believes he added the right quarterback in Derek Carr. His relationship with Carr – he was coach of the Raiders when Carr was drafted, and he made Carr his opening-game starter as a rookie – played a factor in Carr signing with the Saints. A solidified quarterback position alone could make life easier for the head coach.

2. IS BAUN READY – Beyond All-Pro Demario Davis and emerging standout Pete Werner, there are questions at linebacker. Losing Kaden Elliss to free agency was a blow, because Elliss finally had gotten on track after an injury-plagued start to his career. New Orleans needs a reliable option to turn to because while Davis has been an ironman – he has started all 81 regular-season games he has played for the Saints since joining the team; his only missed game was due to Covid protocol – Werner hasn't been quite as available (seven missed games in his first two seasons). This season should be a golden opportunity for four-year veteran Zack Baun, who has yet to become a rotational player on defense but has shown some standout flashes on special teams. Baun should be comfortable in whatever position he's asked to play, and he's pretty much on the same timeline to contribute as was Elliss.

3. HOT CORNER – Third-year cornerback Paulson Adebo and second-year cornerback Alontae Taylor both are going to play, and play a lot. But only one of them can start at the corner position opposite Pro Bowler Marshon Lattimore. There may already have been a bit of a giveaway into the coaching staff's thinking, because Taylor had a good amount of work in the slot during OTAs and minicamp. He's too talented to not be on the field, so it's just a matter of where he'll play. But each will push the other to elevate his game, and that only can be beneficial to the defense.

4. RUN FOR IT – Running back Alvin Kamara has legal resolution to his alleged role in a 2022 fight in Las Vegas, but no NFL resolution. He may or may not be suspended for multiple games if the NFL determines that he ran afoul of its code of conduct. New Orleans hedged its bets by filling out the running back room with unrestricted free agent Jamaal Williams, who led the league with 17 rushing touchdowns for the Lions last season, and by drafting Kendre Miller, who has yet to take a practice rep because he has been recovering from an injury sustained at TCU. Both Williams and Miller believe they have more to offer in the pass game than each was allowed to display, but Kamara still is the guy. He's the best receiver out of the backfield, and he can carry the load rushing when needed.

5. LINE CHANGE – New Orleans lost some trusted rotational producers (defensive tackles David Onyemata, Shy Tuttle) and some major talent that largely was untapped (defensive end Marcus Davenport) along the defensive line, and replaced them with three defensive tackles – two veterans looking to show they're more than what they were scripted to do in their previous stops, and rookie Bryan Bresee, the team's first-round pick – and another defensive end (Payton Turner) who, like Davenport, hasn't been healthy long enough to become a reliable contributor. The group, though, does return defensive end Cameron Jordan, the franchise all-time leader with 115.5 sacks. The pass rush from the line begins with him, and gets an assist from Davis. But Turner, a former first-round pick, needs to stay healthy and be productive and live up to his selection. And the entire unit needs to be more effective against the run than it was last season.

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