Teams in the NFL are constantly preparing for a rainy day. Because injury and defection is a way of life in the National Football League, teams are always looking to add depth, either through free agency or the NFL Draft. But sometimes teams can’t solve every roster problem before the season starts. The 2011 New York Giants were a prime example of this. Wide receiver Steve Smith left for the Eagles, leaving them with a gaping hole at slot receiver. Fortunately for them, Victor Cruz emerged after other options failed and the rest, as they say, is history.
The following teams are in a similar situation the Superbowl champs were in last season; with a key role up in the air and without a clear solution.
New Orleans Saints
Head Coach- The “bountygate” scandal has left the Saints with the biggest hole to fill in the NFL. How does a team overcome the loss of their leader? Yes the team still has the plays and philosophy, but head coach Sean Payton more than just a daring play caller and tactician. It’s not the playbook they will miss, the two interim head coaches, Aaron Kromer and Joe Vitt have the plays and know the system. But the in-game adjustments, the ability to manage the coaching staff, the experience with the players and what buttons to push, that can’t be duplicated.
Inside Linebacker- The Steelers released long time defensive leader James Farrior in March. At first glance there is no player on the roster that will replace Farrior’s production. Pittsburgh did draft linebacker Sean Spence from the University of Miami in the third round but it would be surprising to see a rookie start at inside linebacker in Dick Lebeau’s complex zone blitz scheme. Three year veteran Stevenson Sylvester is also in the mix.
New York Giants
Wide Receiver- Yes the New York Giants head into training camp with questions at wide receiver again. Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz combined for 2,728 yards and 16 touchdowns, so wide receiver would seem like the least of the Giants worries . However the Giants offense is at its best in their three-wide set and Superbowl hero Mario Manningham is now with the 49ers. Ramses Barden will probably get the first chance to join Nicks and Cruz but with Barden’s injury history,and lack of production, the “Z” receiver is an area of concern for the Giants.
Right Tackle- In March the Texans had to swallow hard and release right tackle Eric Winston to create salary cap room, leaving a huge void on their offensive line. Houston didn’t draft an offensive tackle until the seventh round and did not pick up a tackle in free agency. Perhaps the Texans are waiting to sign an older veteran during training camp like Kareem McKenzie.
What other teams have roles they need filled before training camp begins?