Monday, August 11, 2014
New Orleans Saints' projected roster
By Mike Triplett
Examining the New Orleans Saints' roster:
I've had Griffin as the No. 2 quarterback all along, and I certainly see no reason to change that after Griffin's excellent performance in the preseason opener. Veteran Luke McCown is a reliable backup and has done nothing wrong to "lose" his job. But he needs to clearly outshine Griffin, and that hasn't been the case so far.
RUNNING BACKS (5)
The four running backs are practically etched in stone. But fullback is a big question mark since Lorig has been out for a few days with an undisclosed leg injury, which led the Saints to sign proven veteran Greg Jones. So it's possible that Jones or Austin Johnson or an extra tight end could wind up being needed.
I hate the idea of cutting receiver Joe Morgan, and I still think he absolutely has a chance to crack the Saints' roster after recovering from a major knee injury. But I couldn't justify keeping six veteran receivers anymore since I wanted to make room for rookie tight end Nic Jacobs. All along I've felt like Meachem, Toon and Morgan were fighting for a total of two roster spots; I just couldn't decide which one to cut. So I still believe that three-way battle is wide open. None of them did anything in the preseason opener to help or hurt their case much. ... Meanwhile, undrafted rookie Brandon Coleman probably hurt his chances with two dropped passes. There's still a chance that Coleman or fellow rookie Seantavius Jones could crack the roster in a "redshirt" role, but they haven't forced their way onto it yet.
TIGHT ENDS (4)
I've been toying with the idea for three weeks now of adding Jacobs, a super-sized blocker with surprising athleticism. So I finally used Lorig's injury as an excuse (the fullback/tight end positions are sometimes interchangeable in the Saints' offense -- though Hill would be the most likely crossover candidate). Jacobs also got a starting nod on the Saints' kickoff return team, a sign that he's being considered for a spot on the roster.
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (8)
I've swapped out the eighth spot on this list every week, which is a good indication of how wide-open things still are. This time I bumped guard/tackle Marcel Jones in favor of guard/center Kelemete. Both of them have a strong chance of making the roster, though, after taking advantage of a lot of first-string snaps while Grubbs and Evans have been sidelined.
DEFENSIVE LINE (6)
Second-year pro Rufus Johnson Jr. has had a couple nice moments over the past week, so he's firmly on the bubble. But I've been more impressed by the young backups at safety and linebacker so far. Veteran Brandon Deaderick is a more experienced possibility who has shown his versatility by lining up as the second-string nose tackle while Jenkins is out with an injury.
Much like Joe Morgan above, this is another example where I hate projecting the 53-man roster so early. I dropped Victor Butler off my list, which might prove to be a ridiculous idea if he comes back quickly from an undisclosed injury that sidelined him all of last week. But I feel like at least one veteran is going to get cut (maybe Parys Haralson or Keyunta Dawson instead?) because the Saints have so many upcoming young players and core special teamers at this position. And I wanted to make room for Knox on the roster (he's looked good all summer, and he was one of only three players to start on every special teams unit Friday). ... As for Butler, I don't have any information on the severity of his injury, so it's possible that he'll be back soon. And I do still like his potential as a pass rusher. In fact, I thought Butler would be the guy racking up 12 sacks last year before he tore his ACL.
Trevin Wade is anther guy that I would like to find room for on this roster -- a strong possibility, especially if Bailey's undisclosed injury lingers. Wade was a starting gunner on the Saints' punt team Friday and has spent a lot of time at corner with the second-string defense during Bailey's absence. He has clearly passed up Rod Sweeting as the No. 6 man on this list.
Undrafted rookie Pierre Warren is another young player who's had a great camp and could easily make the roster. But it seems like Sunseri and Canadian Football League transfer Ball are ahead of him in the pecking order right now as backup safeties/special teamers. Ball has had a great week and reminds me a lot of the way Rafael Bush first came onto the scene with the Saints.
For the first time all offseason, I'm a little hesitant on Graham after the way coach Sean Payton was so turned off by his missed extra point (from the new experimental distance of 33 yards) in Friday's game. However, unless Graham totally goes into the tank, he's still the most reliable option here. Even the best kickers miss 20 percent of their field goals. It's a matter of how they handle the highs and lows. Graham will need to prove he's unfazed going forward.