Saints mailbag, Part 2: Staying young?

Thanks for submitting your questions to me on Twitter this week. Click here for Part 1 of this weekend’s mailbag. And send questions my way to @MikeTriplett.

@tenorbp: When @Saints vets on the defensive side get healthy, will they take reps from the young guys?

@MikeTriplett: Not in a real significant way. The interior defensive line will be a little over-crowded once they have Brodrick Bunkley, Akiem Hicks, John Jenkins, Tyrunn Walker, Glenn Foster and Tom Johnson all healthy. But that’s a good problem to have. And I imagine they’ll still find 20-plus snaps for all the young guys who have been making a big impact so far.

Same thing at safety -- even when Roman Harper was healthy, rookie Kenny Vaccaro was still playing every snap. The only place where it could be an either/or choice is at linebacker, where the Saints will have to choose between Jonathan Vilma and David Hawthorne if and when Vilma returns.

@kingoflakemoor: How do you see K. Robinson contributing going forward as relates to the other RBs?

@Teaza25: what do you see in the future for Khiry & Ingram?

@MikeTriplett: I still think Ingram will stay ahead in the pecking order when he comes back (and I think both will stay slightly behind Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles). The Saints obviously still had very high hopes for Ingram as of one month ago. I don’t think two poor games will completely change that -- especially since we’ve seen that the problems with the Saints’ run game go beyond any specific running back.

I do think Robinson has continued to show some nice flashes in recent weeks, though. If he continues to take advantage of this opportunity, he could make it hard to keep him inactive on Sundays. But the Saints need to fix the run game overall before they can even figure out the answer for sure themselves.

@PaulaRoyce: Uh oh. A squeaker huh? (referring to my prediction in Saints-Bears game). That means a win is on Hartley's shoulders. I think that means a loss. 2013 wins dependent on blow out?

@MikeTriplett: That seems like an awfully negative take on Garrett Hartley. Every once in a while, I’ll see some complaints from fans who are down on Hartley, but he seems pretty typical among the rest of the kickers around the league to me. He did just miss a 43-yard field goal attempt on Monday against the Miami Dolphins. But he’s 8-of-10 this year and pretty much 8-of-10 throughout his career (81.8 percent in 2011, 80 percent in 2010, 81.8 percent in 2009). Not great, not terrible -- but not unusual.

@Saintsdawg34: Malcolm Jenkins - how is he ranking this year - looks good in contract yr

@MikeTriplett: Yeah, he’s been solid. He’s made two big plays (a forced fumble and interception). He’s played almost every snap. And Rob Ryan has been using him in a versatile role, sometimes shallow, sometimes deep. He hasn’t stood out too much, for better or for worse. But that’s a far cry from last year when he made more big plays than anyone on defense, but also had too many big miscues.

I’ve always been high on Jenkins’ potential, and it seems like he’ll have a better chance to realize it in this system. Cleary, the new defensive scheme suits everyone in the secondary better -- especially since the front four is wreaking so much havoc. Barely any deep balls over the top or blown coverage assignments or missed tackles from anyone.