“Paper Thin Ranks At Defensive Line”September 14th, 2013
On paper, the Bucs should be able to manhandle the Saints in the trenches Sunday when Josh Freeman has the ball, even if the human armoire, Carl Nicks, doesn’t return at guard.
The Saints are that banged up at on their defensive line, per Katherine Terrell of Nola.com, and the Bucs’ O-line is supposed to be that good.
Whether the Saints’ defense can continue to exert that effort remains to be seen. The injury report hasn’t stopped growing, forcing New Orleans to re-sign outside linebacker Jay Richardson, who hasn’t played a regular-season snap since 2010.
The Saints will likely be starting rookie nose tackle John Jenkins in place of Brodrick Bunkley, who is out with a calf injury. The Saints were already facing paper-thin ranks at defensive line after injuries to Glenn Foster (ankle, questionable) and Tyrunn Walker, who’s out with a knee injury.
Things didn’t get better when Akiem Hicks (knee injury, questionable) and Tom Johnson (foot, questionable) popped up on the final injury report Friday.
With such attrition, the theory of easing young players into the game has stopped almost before it began. The Saints will likely rotate heavily between players, and between three and four down linemen fronts to compensate.
This, along with the return of Erik Lorig, bodes well for the Bucs establishing their running game, something they couldn’t do against the Jets. The Bucs’ odds of winning climb dramatically if Doug Martin can perform like the Pro Bowl talent he is.