The New Orleans Saints open training camp on July 25 at their home practice facility in Metairie, Louisiana. Here's a closer look at the Saints' camp:
Top storyline: Will Marcus Davenport and Cameron Meredith emerge as instant-impact players? The Saints head into the season with some serious Super Bowl buzz after being one play away from reaching the 2017 NFC Championship Game. And they loaded up on players in free agency and the draft who could help put them over the top (including veteran defensive players Demario Davis, Kurt Coleman and Patrick Robinson). But Davenport and Meredith are by far the most intriguing newcomers to watch this summer, because of their upside and the mystery surrounding them. Davenport is a tantalizing rookie pass-rusher who is trying to make the leap from Texas-San Antonio to the NFL. And Meredith was on the verge of becoming a breakout receiver for the Chicago Bears last summer before he suffered a major knee injury.
QB depth chart: There's no mystery at the top, where Drew Brees is still thriving at age 39 (he's on pace to become the NFL's all-time passing yardage leader in October). The battle behind Brees is fascinating, though, since second-year pro Taysom Hill is trying to live up to the massive hype created last season when Sean Payton suggested he could one day become Brees' successor. The dual-threat athlete will have to beat out former Houston Texans starter Tom Savage for the gig. Undrafted rookie J.T. Barrett will also try to prove he's worth keeping and developing.
Bubble watch: Several veterans could be squeezed out this summer since the Saints have built up so much depth in recent years. Linebacker Manti Te'o is projected as a backup after the Saints added Davis. Cornerback P.J. Williams, receivers Brandon Coleman and Tommylee Lewis, and defensive end Hau'oli Kikaha will also have their work cut out for them at crowded positions.
This rookie could start: Davenport is the only rookie expected to step in and play a major role immediately, since the Saints didn't have a second-round pick. Third-round receiver Tre'Quan Smith is an exciting prospect with size and speed, but it's hard to see him passing both Meredith and Ted Ginn Jr. right out of the gate. Fifth-round safety Natrell Jamerson, among others, could emerge as a key special-teams contributor right away.
"Year 2 leap" or "sophomore slump"? Are you the glass-half-full or glass-half-empty type when it comes to your sports clichés? The Saints had one of the greatest rookie-class performances in NFL history last season, with running back Alvin Kamara and cornerback Marshon Lattimore becoming the first teammates in 50 years to sweep the NFL's Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year awards. They had five rookie starters, including offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk, safety Marcus Williams and linebacker Alex Anzalone. So what will they do for an encore? Kamara, Lattimore and third-year Pro Bowl receiver Michael Thomas all insisted they won't let the early success get to their heads and that they're determined to become all-time greats by getting better and better each year. If that happens, it's a scary thought for the rest of the league.
Replacing Ingram: Mark Ingram's four-game suspension to start the season created an unexpected dilemma for the Saints -- and will create a wide-open battle for the No. 2 running back job in camp. The Saints signed veterans Terrance West and Shane Vereen as insurance after they wrapped up organized team activities and minicamp. But they will have to prove they are better options than young contenders Boston Scott, Trey Edmunds and Jonathan Williams. One way or another, Payton said he is determined not to overwork Kamara to fill the void.
For daily updates at camp, check out the New Orleans Saints clubhouse page.