Time for a special (and extended) edition of the New Orleans Saints mailbag.
Will in New Orleans writes: Do you think the return of Sedrick Ellis will fix the Saints run defense? They've been gashed by running backs almost every week since he hurt his knee.
Pat Yasinskas: I’m not sure Ellis’ return by itself will correct everything, but I think it will help significantly. He was playing very well before the injury and you could see the drop off in the run defense the moment he went out.
Dylan in Tyler, Texas writes: Pat, I'm pretty nervous about Brady coming into the superdome. I have faith in the saints, but Tom is pretty much the cream of the crop at QB (other than Drew Brees and Peyton Manning) and Randy Moss is arguably one of the best receivers of all time. Do you think that they'll torch the Saints considering our currently injury-filled defensive backfield?
Pat Yasinskas: This game obviously will be a huge challenge for the New Orleans secondary. We don’t really know yet who we’ll see in that secondary because starting cornerbacks Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter were out with injuries last week. If they return, that would be a big boost for the secondary. This group was playing very well before the injuries started piling up. I’m curious to see what the Saints can do if they’re healthy in the secondary.
Arief in Slidell, La. writes: As you may or may not be aware, Bobby Hebert on WWL 870AM called for Saints fans to wear black to the game on Monday Night against the Patriots to black out the dome. Since this has happened, many Saints fan pages on facebook have been calling for all fans going to the game to wear black. Signs labeled as "Operation Dome Black Out" have been made and so has other merchandise. www.whodatarmy.com These Facebook Saints fans pages also have thousands of fans, so the news is spreading quickly. I was wondering though if you could possible post a Saints blog on the situation to help spread the word to all the fans going to the game to wear black.
Pat Yasinskas: There, the word is out. Glad to further a cause started by Bobby Hebert, who I’ve gotten to know over the last two years and now consider a friend.
Charles in Brooklyn writes: I haven't seen anyone make the point, but the Saints are doing all of this with a roster that is one man short. They are carrying two PKs even though their punter handles the kickoffs. Weird, no?
Pat Yasinskas: Good point. Yes, the Saints are carrying both John Carney and Garrett Hartley. That’s two roster spots. They brought in Carney because Hartley was suspended for the first four games. Carney has been a little up and down, although he’s a proven veteran. Hartley has lots of upside potential and I think the Saints have kept him around because they’re not sure how much leg Carney has left. As they get closer to the playoffs, I think you may see a roster move because they could use a spot to add a player that could do different things for them.
Chris in Salem, Oregon writes: Many have speculated the Saints RB rotation is to keep them fresh. Would you think in a big game against the Pats that Pierre Thomas will play more being the most talented or will they stick to the rotation that has worked?
Pat Yasinskas: The short answer is that you don’t fix something that’s not broken and the rotation of Thomas, Mike Bell and Reggie Bush has worked nicely. That said, I think you could see a slight change and a bit more of Thomas. He is their best running back and this is a big game. It might make sense to give him a few more carries this week.
Jake in San Diego writes: My question is about the Saints secondary. I don't understand why the Saints are swinging for the fences on aging veterans at CB. I believe Jenkins had a wonderful first start. He ended the day with 7 total tackles, 5 solo, 1 interception and 2 deflected passes. I understand that he did this against one of the worst offenses in the league, but he was lined up on Bryant (Bucs #1 receiver) for the majority of the day. So again, why are the Saints signing aging CB's to come in and learn a new system in such a short amount of time? Especially when the starters that are injured should be back in a few short weeks.
Pat Yasinskas: I believe the Saints are doing the prudent thing here by adding veterans Mike McKenzie and Chris McAlister. They’re not going to jump ahead of Malcolm Jenkins. They’re simply there as insurance. With Porter, Greer and Randall Gay all banged up recently, the Saints simply are adding depth. In a best-case scenario, they’ll get healthy at this position and they won’t even have to play McAlister or McKenzie.