For the New Orleans Saints, there's an old saying that appears likely will fit them once again in the upcoming 2017 season: "The more things change, the more they stay the same."
To be more specific, a couple of the "weapons" at the skill positions in the Saints offense which will be at the disposal of QB Drew Brees.
While we're already familiar with what the addition of free agent and 4-time All-Pro RB Adrian Peterson will mean to the Saints running game and the return of starting WR's Michael Thomas and Willie Snead to the passing game; it was earlier today during the final practice of Round 2 of Saints OTA's, that we got to see how much of an impact that two "new" or different players will make within the parameters of the offense going forward.
Perhaps a bit surprisingly, it was 32-year old veteran WR Ted Ginn, Jr. who was among the standout performers during the practice session, the last of 3 OTA's that the Saints had this week and the only one made available to the Media.
As New Orleans Advocate beat writer Nick Underhill noted in his article earlier this afternoon that covered his personal observations from the practice, Ginn twice beat cornerback P.J. Williams down the sideline on go routes, got the better of cornerback DeVante Harris on a post, and then beat starting #1 CB Delvin Breaux on an out route.
As Underhill was quick to point out: although Ginn is now age 32, he is still pretty darn fast --- and while he might drop a couple passes every now and then, he could be a good addition to this Saints offense after they traded even faster WR and deep pass threat Brandin Cooks to the New England Patriots before the Draft a few months ago.
"I could not be more impressed today than I was with Ted Ginn", Brees told reporters in his post-practice press conference.
Another player that stood out according to Underhill and other media members in attendance: rookie "scatback" RB Alvin Kamara.
Underhill said that Kamara had one of the better moments of practice when he beat starting middle linebacker Craig Robertson down the sideline and caught a deep pass, splitting the linebacker and rookie free safety Marcus Williams.
As Underhill observed: the Saints are still finding out what they can do with Kamara, and if he keeps making plays like that one earlier today, it should open up the playbook a little bit more for head coach Sean Payton and the Saints offensive attack.
The biggest "takeaway" in all of this is that the Saints offense -- despite having different new faces come and go throughout the past several years of the Sean Payton / Drew Brees Era, continues to function at a high level of success, no matter who they put out on the field.
As WWL TV New Orleans Channel 4 Sports Anchor Lyons Yellin noted in his Tweet: the Saints just keeps "chugging right along", remaining on a path of success in spite of the changes that have recently been made at the skill positions.
— Lyons Yellin WWL-TV (@LyonsYellin) June 1, 2017
While it may be fair to say that Ginn isn't as young as he used to be, today he showed observers that he is still more than capable of being a threat at the WR position, and could take on a more prominent role besides the team's designated return man on punts and kickoffs.
While Ginn might not get the respect in the deep passing game that Cooks did, he will force teams at the very least to devote coverage to him or else face the prospect of getting burned -- and burned badly.
As for Kamara, there isn't any doubt that he gives the Saints a player who can dictate match-ups in the passing game just as former "scatbacks" Reggie Bush and Darren Sproles did, during their days when they too were in a Saints uniform.
The Saints have missed that "scatback" dynamic to their offense since the departure of Sproles over 3 years ago, and while reserve RB Travaris Cadet has proved to be a serviceable contributor in that role, it's fairly obvious that he was nowhere near the caliber of player that Sproles (or Reggie Bush in his prime) was.
Kamara looks poised and ready to assume that role, and if today's practice was any indication, he will make the transition rather smoothly despite being "only" just a rookie in his first NFL season.
Of course that same NFL season is still over 3 months away from starting, but if today's practice is any indication then the Saints offense -- as Yellin put it -- will continue to chug right along.
Since the Sean Payton / Drew Brees Era began back in 2006, the Saints have been THE #1 offense in the NFL, averaging 405.3 yards on total offense per game. Last season in 2016, the Saints finished as the #1 offense in average total yards once again (426.0 yards per game).
And now as we approach the upcoming season, the Saints have some "different" weapons in their arsenal.
But while that may be a detriment for some NFL teams, for the New Orleans Saints it's simply just a matter of "the more that things change, the more they remain the same".............