The day is finally here. About a week ahead of the first regular season game and the Saints have cut down their roster to their initial 53-man count. Here are my initial reactions by position groups.
Drew Brees, Teddy Bridgewater, and Taysom Hill
There’s no surprise here following the trade for Bridgewater. Have we at ASC ever mentioned how stocked we are about this? Because we’re really stoked about this. Tom Savage and JT Barrett were both cut, but Barrett may end up on the practice squad after clearing waivers, which I imagine he’ll do. The unfortunate part came from not being able to ship Tom Savage to another team in exchange for a pick or other assets. But it looks like teams were more interested in testing the waiver wire than giving up capitol for him.
Alvin Kamara, Boston Scott (R), Zach Line, Trey Edmunds (Mark Ingram – Suspended)
Probably the most surprising cut of the weekend came when the Saints cut Jonathan Williams who was a sure-thing, or so we thought, to take on Mark Ingram’s stats during his four-game suspension. Either the Saints are very comfortable with what they’ve seen in sixth-rounder Boston Scott or they plan to pick up another option today (which now looks to be former Pats RB Mike Gillislee.) Trey Edmunds has been moved to Fullback and will backup starter Zach Line. I’m nervous about the idea of an Alvin Kamara/Boston Scott backfield because though they are individually dynamic, the Mark Ingram north-south production served well as a change-of-pace move against defenses. Though Scott doesn’t get nearly as much credit as he deserves as a back that can handle himself between the tackles.
Michael Thomas, Ted Ginn, Jr., Cameron Meredith, Tre’Quan Smith, Austin Carr, TommyLee Lewis
The only surprise here came Saturday with the cut of Brandon Tate. There’s a chance that Tate gets a call to come back to New Orleans after week one as to avoid guaranteed salaries, but for now the squad is running with TLL as the return specialist. Austin Carr has looked good for two preseasons straight now and certainly deserves the nod he got. Will be interesting to see how he fits in with a very deep WR group. If nothing else, he’s an effective and tough as nails insurance plan in the slot.
Ben Watson, Josh Hill, Dan Arnold
No surprises here but some personal disappointment because I was really pulling for Deon Yelder to make the squad. But it made sense why he didn’t. His exciting play at the end of his time with Western Kentucky and through rookie minis just didn’t translate to the NFL game throughout the preseason. Despite running 19 routes in the preseason, he was never targeted. Dan Arnold, on the other hand, made plays as a pass-catcher in practice and throughout the exhibition games, earning him a spot on the 53 for now.
Terron Armstead, Andrus Peat, Max Unger, Larry Warfield, Ryan Ramczyk, Jermon Bushrod, Will Clapp, Cameron Tom
The top seven here were pretty much no brianer’s but I was a little surprised by the decision to keep Cameron Tom, though I’m not mad at it. I expected a keep of fourth-round pick Rick Leonard. But these guys make a lot of sense. Bushrod can swing in on the line anywhere but center but will mostly do so at tackle, Tom brings versatility at guard, and Clapp brings even more versatility at guard and center. The Saints were pleased to land Clapp in the seventh round of the 2018 draft and they continue to show it by his making the roster.
Cameron Jordan, Alex Okafor, Sheldon Rankins, David Onyemata, Tyeler Davison, Marcus Davenport, Trey Hendrickson, Mitchell Loewen, Taylor Stallworth
Not much of a shock here. The starters are as we expected and most of the backups/rotational guys make a ton of sense. Devaroe Lawrence was traded to the Browns for a seventh-round pick. Taylor Stallworth is one of the two UDFA’s to make the initial 53. He played very well throughout the preseason particularly at nose tackle. It’s been a while since we’ve had two of those on the roster at the same time. Mitchell Loewen is a huge win on both sides, making this roster. He too is a fantastic player who just happened to go down with an injury last year. This preseason he looked healthy and was a great asset on the field. Solid depth at this position.
Demario Davis, Alex Anzalone, A.J. Klein, Craig Robertson, Manti Te’o, Nate Stupar
This has basically been the six since training camp. The only potential change showed up in LB/pass rusher Jayronne Elliott who looked like a stud early in the preseason but then tapered off until he recovered a blocked punt for a touchdown against the Rams. Nate Stupar was the one who might have taken advantage of some recency bias when he dismantled the Rams defense in the final exhibition game for 7 tackles, 3 tackles, an interception, and a fumble recovery.The nice thing about Stupar though is that the recency bias only sparks memories of his past achievements. He’s been a special teams ace for the Saints for quite some time and will continue to excel there while backing up some solid linebackers. Again, depth here is strong. My only concern is Klein, who looked to be slow on the uptake throughout the preseason. Would have been perfectly fine, on my end, retaining Elliott and moving Klein. Maybe that’s what the front office wanted but couldn’t find a suitor for Klein much like they didn’t for Stupar.
Marshon Lattimore, Ken Crawley, Patrick Robinson, Arthur Maulet, Justin Hardee, PJ Williams, Marcus Williams, Kurt Coleman, Vonn Bell, Chris Banjo, JT Gray
The big surprise here was the retention of JT Gray who missed time uring the preseason over Kamrin Moore who looked to be improving and developing well. I didn’t expect Moore to make the roster considering I thought we’d only be keeping four safeties. Seems to me, though that if you were gong to keep five, Moore would be the fifth. The only surprise was the cut of fellow rookie CB Natrell Jamerson who basically looked like an improving version of PJ Williams with big time special teams ability. Super excited to see Arthur Maulet on the squad, a much deserved win for the New Orleans-native and Saints fanbase. Justin Hardee and Chris Banjo remain to top off what will be a spectacular special teams unit that will also include Nate Stupar, Mitchell Loewen, and Taysom Hill.
Wil Lutz (K), Thomas Morstead (P), and Zach Wood (LS)
Key Practice Squad Additions
Jonathan Williams (RB), Keith Kikwood (WR), Deon Yelder (TE), JT Barrett (QB), Vince Biegel (LB), and Rick Leonard (OT)
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