Saints preseason kicks off August 9th vs the Minnesota Vikings. It’s an exciting time for fans, but for players it’s a huge moment to prove themselves worthy of a chance to play in the NFL. Whether you’re a 10 year veteran or an undrafted rookie, the next four games will help to determine your fate for the upcoming season.
Teddy Bridgewater – In game one of his revenge series, Teddy Bridgewater will face off against the team that drafted him in 2014. We should see a lot of Bridgewater playing time this preseason. After the release of JT Barrett, Taysom Hill is the only quarterback on the depth chart behind him. There’s been a lot of speculation and hints from the coaching staff that Bridgewater could take over as the Saints starting QB after Drew Brees retires. A lot of focus will be on him as fans and coaches alike try to read if he shows the traits of a franchise quarterback.
Devine Ozigbo, Jacquizz Rodgers, and Dwayne Washington – The third running back battle has been one of ups and downs. From the excitement around the possibility of signing Theo Riddick to the disappointment of Buck Allen going on IR. The opportunity to be the third running back on this team is wide open, and preseason will play a large part of who ends up taking it.
Dwayne Washington currently has the edge, impressing the Saints coaching staff during his time with the team last season. He made the most of his opportunity week 17, rushing for 108 yards with an impressive 9.8 yards per attempt.
Devine Ozigbo was a priority undrafted free agent the Saints managed to bring on. A lot of analysts we’re surprised he didn’t get his name called on draft night. Ozigbo brings a similar run style to Mark Ingram while improving his pass catching out of the backfield as his college career progressed. Ozigbo has turned some heads at camp, but it’s a different story when run defenders are going full speed.
Jacquizz Rodgers was a late addition to the Saints, spending more than 85% of his career playing on NFC South teams. Despite entering his 9th season in the NFL, Rodgers is coming off his third best receiving year in his career. It may come down to the Saints vision for the offense this season, but each running back will have to prove themselves if they want a chance to survive the final cuts.
Simmie Cobbs, Emmanuel Butler, Cyril Grayson, and Rishard Matthews – The wide receiver battle has been one of the most exciting to watch this camp. Michael Thomas, Ted Ginn, Tre’Quan Smith, and most likely Keith Kirkwood have the first four spots locked up. That leaves 1-2 roster spots for the remaining seven receivers. Emmanuel Butler has been easily the most impressive, but missed consecutive practices with a minor injury. The last two roster spots are anyone’s to take at this point.
Trey Hendrickson, Wes Horton, and Porter Gustin – Defensive end depth is thin and someone is going to need to step up. Hendrickson is entering his third year with the Saints, which is typically when you would expect a developmental player to make a jump. Porter Gustin finally made a name for himself during Saints fan fest, beating new guard Patrick Omameh on back to back plays. Wes Horton is another player who has been quiet this offseason, but his veteran leadership brings value to the team with players like Marcus Davenport on the roster. Mario Edwards name could be thrown in the mix, but his versatility and ability to play 3-tech should make him a lock for this season.
The Drafted Rookies – Only three of seven drafted players in 2018 remained on the roster at the end of the season. Saints entered this draft with a different approach, quality over quantity. All five draft picks seem to be in a good position to make the final roster this season. Now, we get to see them in game action against a talented Vikings defense. Saquan Hampton and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson are two to specifically keep your eye on after making play after play during camp. If CGJ continues his success, we may see him in the starting lineup at one point this season.