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New Orleans Saints early 53-man roster projection: Incumbents in the lead for now

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; When asked for a little insight into the New Orleans Saints' early bubble battles, assistant head coach Joe Vitt offered up the name of a great sleeper. Greg Gaines. OK, so Gaines was a great sleeper in 1983, when he ...

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Old 08-15-2012, 06:49 AM   #1
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When asked for a little insight into the New Orleans Saints' early bubble battles, assistant head coach Joe Vitt offered up the name of a great sleeper. Greg Gaines. OK, so Gaines was a great sleeper in 1983, when he earned a spot on the Seattle Seahawks roster by blowing up two guys on the final kickoff coverage of the final preseason game.

But Vitt's point was well made: It ain't over 'til it's over.


New Orleans Saints running back Travaris Cadet (39) drags defensive back Isa Abdul-Quddus (42) during practice for the New Orleans Saints at their headquarters in Metairie on Tuesday, August 14, 2012.
"He knew he was getting cut. The world knew he was getting cut. Then he went down there, plowed through two guys, split the wedge. And we said, 'How can we get rid of this guy?'" Vitt said of Gaines, who went on to become a starting linebacker for five years in Seattle.

That's a good inspirational story for the young guys on the Saints' roster to hear right now, because so far it sure looks like the incumbents are way ahead in the polls.

Some young guys are making an impressive roster push - especially tailback Travaris Cadet and receiver Andy Tanner. And rookie cornerback Corey White has been outstanding, though he doesn't count as a true "sleeper" because he was a fifth-round draft pick.

But so far, there's been little evidence on the practice field or in preseason games that a major shake-up is in store.

It would be a lot of fun to make some bold predictions about the Saints' 53-man roster right now - to shock and awe with this year's version of Alex Brown or Jon Stinchcomb missing the team or Isa Abdul-Quddus or Brian de la Puente making it.

But as the Saints head toward the final two days of training camp, almost all of the veteran players who seemed like they might be in some jeopardy in 2012 have continued to play prominent roles, and play well in them - guys like Courtney Roby, Adrian Arrington, Scott Shanle, Will Herring, Jonathan Casillas, Jonathon Amaya and Korey Hall.

In other words, this first run-through of the Saints' projected 53-man roster might be considered a tad "boring."

It's still early, though. So as we break down how we see the roster battles shaking out right now, we'll also point out how they can still be shaken up.

*-players facing suspensions to start the year.

QUARTERBACKS:

In: Drew Brees, Chase Daniel

Out: Sean Canfield, Luke McCown

What Could Change: This one seems to be written in ink. It's unlikely the Saints will carry three quarterbacks on the active roster, and no one has pushed Daniel for his backup job. Canfield likely will return to his on-again, off-again role on the practice squad during the season. But if Brees or Daniel suffers an injury, McCown might get the call ahead of Canfield.

RUNNING BACKS:

In: Pierre Thomas, Mark Ingram, Darren Sproles, Chris Ivory

Out: Travaris Cadet, Joe Banyard


New Orleans Saints defensive end Junior Galette gives his preseason performance a C grade
New Orleans Saints defensive end Junior Galette discussed the team's second preseason game against the New England Patriots and said that training in the heat in New Orleans gave them an advantage over the Northern team.
Watch video
What Could Change: Cadet could certainly supplant Ivory on the 53-man roster if he continues to shine in practices and preseason games - and if Ivory continues to fumble or suffers another injury setback. Cadet's return abilities on special teams are an added bonus.
However, we're still giving Ivory the edge for now because the Saints know how effective he can be when healthy. And as dynamic as Cadet has looked as a receiver out of the backfield, he hasn't been able to produce as much on rushing attempts.

RECEIVERS:

In: Marques Colston, Lance Moore, Devery Henderson, Adrian Arrington, Courtney Roby, Nick Toon, Joseph Morgan

Out: Andy Tanner, Derek Moye, Kevin Hardy, Marques Clark

What Could Change: Yes, you counted right. Seven receivers. The thinking here is that Arrington's knee injury will heal within the month, so the Saints will save a roster spot for him as long as they have the luxury of a few inactive roster spots to work with early in the year. Then when Arrington comes back, Morgan could be in the most jeopardy.

In fact, Morgan is already in jeopardy. He has been inconsistent this summer, mixing in some dynamic plays with some drops and mental errors. He needs to be better - or else the more sure-handed Tanner or Roby could pass him up for the fourth receiver role.

Roby has two avenues to make the roster - by outshining the other backup receivers or by outshining the other gunners on special teams coverage units. As impressive as he's been as a receiver this preseason, it's the special teams role that he needs to nail down.

Toon also has a chance to win that fourth receiver job, provided he can stay healthy. At the very least, Toon seems a lock for a spot on the 53-man roster, even if the Saints use this as a "redshirt" year for him.

TIGHT ENDS/FULLBACKS:

In: Jimmy Graham, David Thomas, Michael Higgins, Jed Collins, Korey Hall

Out: Daniel Graham, Jake Byrne, Derek Schouman

What Could Change: We lumped these position groups together, because that's what the Saints usually do when building their roster. In the past, they've either kept four tight ands and one fullback or three tight ends and two fullbacks.

Jimmy Graham, Thomas and Collins are roster locks. Higgins seems to be in good shape, but he's stronger as a receiver than a blocker. So if the Saints decide they need a blocking specialist at the position, they might opt for the newly signed Daniel Graham or the undrafted rookie Byrne.

The Saints could keep four tight ends if they want to let Hall go. But Hall remains one of the Saints' most valued special teams assets - which is why they targeted him in free agency last year. He continued to shine in kick coverage last week at New England.

OFFENSIVE TACKLES:

In: Jermon Bushrod, Zach Strief, Charles Brown, Marcel Jones

Out: Aderious Simmons, Hutch Eckerson

What Could Change: The top three guys seem to be locks. Jones, meanwhile, will be competing with the backup center/guards for the last of eight likely roster spots along the offensive line.

Jones, a seventh-round draft pick, certainly looks the part at 6 feet 7, 320 pounds. And he has spent all of training camp with the second string. But these final three exhibition games will be the ultimate test for him.

CENTER/GUARDS:

In: Jahri Evans, Ben Grubbs, Brian de la Puente, Matt Tennant

Out: Eric Olsen, Fenuki Tupuo, DeOn'tae Pannell, Brian Folkerts, Paul Fenaroli

What Could Change: The three starters are set. And Tennant clearly has the edge for the versatile backup job at guard/center. He has the most experience in his third year in this system. Olsen could make a strong push, though, after arriving late last year from the Washington Redskins practice squad. Olsen has been taking snaps as a second-string guard and third-string center to prove his own versatility.

DEFENSIVE ENDS:

In: *-Will Smith, Cameron Jordan, Turk McBride, Junior Galette, Martez Wilson

Out: Donavan Robinson, Braylon Broughton

What Could Change: The Saints could get a shake-up courtesy of the federal court system if Smith is granted an injunction to keep playing while he fights his four-game NFL suspension. If that's the case, one of the Saints' backup defensive tackles could be in jeopardy (see below). The other four ends in this "In" crowd should all be safe.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES:

In: Sedrick Ellis, Brodrick Bunkley, Akiem Hicks, Tom Johnson, Remi Ayodele

Out: Tyrunn Walker, Swanson Miller, Alex Daniels

What Could Change: If Smith is suspended, the Saints can probably afford to keep five defensive tackles. But when he comes back, one of these guys could definitely be the odd man out - especially since the Saints use their ends at tackle in many pass-rushing situations.

That means either Ayodele or Johnson could be in jeopardy, depending on how they perform - and on what the Saints need. They're two very different types. Ayodele is a big run-stuffer, while Johnson is a more athletic pass rush specialist. It's a coin toss right now, but Johnson isn't being helped by a nagging ankle injury.

It's also possible a young guy could beat out one of those veterans. Walker, in particular, has shown some potential in the first two preseason games.

LINEBACKERS:

In: Curtis Lofton, David Hawthorne, Scott Shanle, Jonathan Casillas, Chris Chamberlain, Will Herring.

Out: *-Jonathan Vilma, Kadarron Anderson, Lawrence Wilson, Ramon Humber, Ezra Butler, Aaron Tevis

What Could Change: There's still time for young guys like Anderson and Wilson to pull a "Greg Gaines," either with standout performances on defense or special teams. But so far, we've seen no indication that the Saints are looking to replace veterans Shanle, Herring or Casillas.

Shanle has spent the entire offseason as the starting strong-side linebacker, with Herring as his backup. Herring also got the start at weakside linebacker last week when Hawthorne was injured, and he plays a prominent special teams role. Casillas, meanwhile, has looked great in preseason games and practices so far.

There's a strong chance that Vilma could win an injunction to return to the 90-man roster this month. But even if he does, he could wind up starting the year on the physically-unable-to-perform list because of a knee injury.

CORNERBACKS:

In: Jabari Greer, Patrick Robinson, Johnny Patrick, Corey White, Marquis Johnson

Out: Elbert Mack, Kamaal McIlwain, Cord Parks, Nick Hixson

What Could Change: Probably not much. The top five guys have separated themselves so far. White and Johnson have been two of the most impressive newcomers on the roster, which is great for the Saints because they had two job openings after letting Tracy Porter and Leigh Torrence go in free agency.

Coaches, scouts and players have consistently mentioned White in conversations about which young players have stood out. The 6-1, 205-pounder plays physical and aggressive, and he has shined on defense and special teams. He repeatedly "flashed" during last week's game at New England.

SAFETIES:

In: Roman Harper, Malcolm Jenkins, Jonathon Amaya, Isa Abdul-Quddus

Out: Jose Gumbs, Jerico Nelson, Johnny Thomas

What Could Change: Gumbs, Nelson and Thomas all have enticing potential, so they still have time to break through - perhaps like Abdul-Quddus did on special teams last year. The only problem is that Abdul-Quddus and Amaya are young guys themselves who have established themselves as valuable special teams contributors. So it will be hard to supplant them.

Based on a casual observation, Gumbs seems to have stood out the most often among the three rookies in practices and preseason games. But the Saints haven't given any indication whom they like best among that group.

SPECIALISTS:

In: Garrett Hartley, Thomas Morstead, Justin Drescher

Out: John Kasay

What Could Change: Hartley has opened up a big lead early in the kicker battle. Although both of Kasay's field goal misses were forgivable (a block on a long attempt, then a bad hold), he needed to prove himself as the more consistent option to win the job. If Hartley continues to show good health and good consistency, it's his job to lose.


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Old 08-15-2012, 12:11 PM   #2
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Re: New Orleans Saints early 53-man roster projection: Incumbents in the lead for now

Still a long way to go.
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Old 08-15-2012, 12:59 PM   #3
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Re: New Orleans Saints early 53-man roster projection: Incumbents in the lead for now

Agree with everthing except WR.

I don't see AA making it now. With his injury history he'll be available if we need him.

Tanner is a younger version of AA and is currently "earning it".

I'm still waffling on Ivory/Cadet. The next 3 games are big for both.

I could also see Cadet making it as a 5th RB/ST player in lieu of a 7th WR. If Morgan remains inconsistent he'll likely clear waivers for the practice squad.
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Old 08-15-2012, 01:10 PM   #4
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Re: New Orleans Saints early 53-man roster projection: Incumbents in the lead for now

Spot on! There were a couple of questionable decisions. But, it's still early in preseason. We have a lot of snaps to go.
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Old 08-15-2012, 02:28 PM   #5
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Re: New Orleans Saints early 53-man roster projection: Incumbents in the lead for now

Originally Posted by Danno View Post
Agree with everthing except WR.

I don't see AA making it now. With his injury history he'll be available if we need him.

Tanner is a younger version of AA and is currently "earning it".

I'm still waffling on Ivory/Cadet. The next 3 games are big for both.

I could also see Cadet making it as a 5th RB/ST player in lieu of a 7th WR. If Morgan remains inconsistent he'll likely clear waivers for the practice squad.
Same thing I was thinking.

I don't know about keeping 7 recievers. That's a ton and the Saints almost never play the 6th guy as it is now. Look at Roby's career here. I would think they might keep one of the corners or safeties instead. They're very hard to find and some of those guys on the cut list have looked pretty good.

Others have earned AA's spot. He'll have to earn it back now.

I wouldn't be surprised if Ivory is dangled as trade bait, but either way Cadet may have already earned a spot on the 53 man roster.
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Old 08-15-2012, 03:17 PM   #6
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Re: New Orleans Saints early 53-man roster projection: Incumbents in the lead for now

I think that was a pretty good breakdown. Can't really say that I disagree with any of it other than the WR's... We have a lot of talent there so I think we have to play out the remaining preseason games to get a clearer picture of that situation.
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Old 08-15-2012, 05:54 PM   #7
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Re: New Orleans Saints early 53-man roster projection: Incumbents in the lead for now

...WHEW...

We get Shanle back...

Had me scared there for a minute!

:angry:

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Old 08-15-2012, 06:51 PM   #8
 
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Re: New Orleans Saints early 53-man roster projection: Incumbents in the lead for now

Originally Posted by Danno View Post
Agree with everthing except WR.

I don't see AA making it now. With his injury history he'll be available if we need him.

Tanner is a younger version of AA and is currently "earning it".

I'm still waffling on Ivory/Cadet. The next 3 games are big for both.

I could also see Cadet making it as a 5th RB/ST player in lieu of a 7th WR. If Morgan remains inconsistent he'll likely clear waivers for the practice squad.
I think T Walker makes the team supplanting a veteran..and we replace one of those extra WR with an extra OL.. maybe Olson.
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Old 08-15-2012, 07:17 PM   #9
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Re: New Orleans Saints early 53-man roster projection: Incumbents in the lead for now

I need Lawrence Wilson to make the team. UConn Huskies.
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