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 Post subject: Marcus Davenport will see more than the 23
PostPosted: 21 Jan 2020, 08:45 
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New Orleans Saints mid-preseason 53 man roster prediction The New Orleans Saints have completed half of their preseason games , and have officially broken training camp. The team is 1-1 in the games that don't count, with games against the Los Angeles Chargers and Los Angeles Rams to close out the exhibition schedule before their September 9 season opener against division rival Tampa Bay. With most of the Saints starters likely to see much more playing time in the team's next preseason contest, the chances of many players fighting to make the roster are now extremely limited before the league's main cutdown date over Labor Day weekend. With the exhibition period over halfway concluded, here is my 53-man roster projection for the defending NFC South champs. QUARTERBACK (3)Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY SportsDrew Brees, Tom Savage, Taysom Hill (Practice Squad = J.T. Barrett)Not much has changed here during training camp. Barrett looks like a project, perhaps with enough potential to keep on the practice squad. Hill and Savage have both moved the offense at times, but neither has played well enough to give Saints fans much confidence should Brees miss any length of time. The guess here is that Hill just hasn't been consistent enough for Sean Payton to have the confidence to promote him to the number two quarterback over Savage, a player who has NFL starting experience. It's possible that New Orleans could make a move for a player like Teddy Bridgewater, who is reportedly being shopped for a trade by the New York Jets. The more likely scenario is that Savage opens up the year as backup, while Hill serves as the holder on kicks, possibly used on some gadget plays and as a special teams gunner like a season ago. RUNNING BACK (5)Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY SportsMark Ingram*, Alvin Kamara, Jonathan Williams, Boston Scott, Shane Vereen, Zach Line (fb)(Practice Squad = Trey Edmunds)Notable Cuts = Terrence West,*(Mark Ingram will not count as a roster spot while he serves a four game league suspension to start the season)Williams has seemingly grabbed the top running back spot behind Ingram and Kamara with his performance through the first two exhibition games. Scott has flashed some ability as a runner, and will be a factor in the team's return game. Vereen may have the slight edge over West because of his versatility and pass receiving skills, but could be expendable upon Ingram's return to the lineup. Edmunds has been used at fullback a bit, and is a rugged inside runner, but doesn't look like he's done enough to overtake Line or grab one of the top running back spots. WIDE RECEIVER (5)Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty ImagesMichael Thomas, Tre'quan Smith, Ted Ginn Jr., Cameron Meredith, Brandon Tate(Practice Squad = Keith Kirkwood, Austin Carr)Notable Cuts = Tommylee Lewis, Josh Huff , Michael Floyd Meredith put to rest some recent rumblings that he would not be ready for the start of the season when he made his first game appearance against Arizona last week. Smith has the look of a potential 3rd round steal, Thomas is one of the best wideouts in the league, and Ginn continues to be a deep threat at 33-yrs. old. If the Saints keep six receivers, something they rarely do, then Kirkwood would almost certainly get the call, and he has been impressive at times. Otherwise, the veteran Tate gets the final receiver spot, primarily because of his kick return ability. TIGHT END (3)Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY SportsBenjamin Watson, Josh Hill, Dan Arnold (Practice Squad = Deon Yelder)Notable Cuts = Michael Hoomanawanui The return of Watson gives New Orleans a solid blocker that they have lacked in a starting tight end since his departure following the 2015 season. Arnold, a converted receiver, is a fundamentally solid blocker despite being undersized and can give Drew Brees another short range weapon in the passing game. Yelder, a raw project, has done little through training camp, but has enough physical ability to possibly land on the practice squad. Hoomanawanui becomes expendable because of Watson's return, a likely increased role for Zach Line, and the ability of Rick Leonard or Josh Leribeus to be a sixth lineman in short yardage packages. OFFENSIVE LINE (8)Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty ImagesTerron Armstead, Andrus Peat, Max Unger, Larry Warford, Ryan Ramczyk, Josh LeRibeus, Rick Leonard, Will Clapp (Practice Squad = Cameron Tom)Notable Cuts = Jermon Bushrod, Michael Ola There aren't many fourth round draft picks that don't make the team in their rookie season, and while Leonard is certainly a project, he has shown good enough footwork that the Saints figure to keep him for development. Ola or Bushrod could be brought back for veteran insurance if Armstead or Ramczyk were to be injured. Leribeus played fairly well for New Orleans down the stretch of last season, and will likely be the first offensive lineman used off the bench , a role filled by Senio Kelemete over the past few seasons. It appears to be a toss-up between Clapp and Tom for the other interior line position, with the odd man out hopefully clearing waivers for a spot on the practice squad. Both are capable of playing either guard or center, and have received a large amount of reps throughout the preseason. DEFENSIVE LINE (8)Chuck Cook-USA TODAY SportsEnds: Cam Jordan, Alex Okafor, Marcus Davenport, Trey HendricksonTackles: Sheldon Rankins, David Onyemata, Devaroe Lawrence, Taylor Stallworth (Practice Squad = Al-Quadin Muhammad, Mitchell Loewen, Alex Jenkins)Notable Cuts = Tyeler Davison, George Johnson, Mitchell LoewenThis is perhaps the toughest overall unit to project. Davison and Johnson have given the team some good play, and Loewen has had a very good camp. Muhammad led the team in sacks last preseason, but has done little to stand out this year despite increased reps. Hendrickson has played some outstanding football this summer, and could be a breakout performer on the Saints defense. Lawrence and Stallworth have each had some fine moments in each of the Saints preseason games, and may have done enough to overtake Davison and Loewen. Johnson, a journeyman throughout his career, is a player who could be re-signed (if available) and contribute immediately if injuries hit the line as they did last year. LINEBACKER (7)Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY SportsDemario Davis, Alex Anzalone, Craig Robertson, A.J. Klein, Manti Te'o, Nate Stupar, Jayrone Elliott (Practice Squad = Colton Jumper)Notable Cuts = Hau'oli Kikaha Elliott burst into prominence with an impressive 2.5 sack performance against Jacksonville in the preseason opener, forcing two fumbles. He played little last week against the Cardinals, but has shown excellent explosiveness off the edge to the passer, giving him the edge over the injury-prone Kikaha. Stupar has starting experience at multiple linebacking spots , and solidifies the special teams. Despite some early summer rumors to the contrary, Robertson, Klein, and Te'o all appear to be safe. CORNERBACK (7)Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY SportsMarshon Lattimore, Ken Crawley, Patrick Robinson, Arthur Maulet, Natrell Jamerson, Linden Stephens, Justin Hardee (Practice Squad = Kamrin Moore)Notable Cuts = P.J. Williams Maulet has had an outstanding training camp, and will likely receive alot of regular season snaps in the defensive backfield. Jamerson's versatility and special teams abilities should give the rookie 5th round pick a spot, while Hardee is one of the team's best special teams players. I've been high on Stephens, an undrafted rookie, to make this team from the start, and I'm standing by that feeling. The call to keep him over the veteran Williams is perhaps the most controversial of this list, but Stephens has gotten increased defensive snaps over the first two weeks, and plays an aggressive coverage style that coordinator Dennis Allen prefers. Williams has been nicked up by injury, causing him to miss some time, and struggled with consistency a year ago. SAFETY (4)Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty ImagesMarcus Williams, Kurt Coleman, Vonn Bell, Chris Banjo With the exception of Williams, who has had an outstanding camp, the New Orleans safeties have been unspectacular this preseason. Still, Bell and Coleman have both been solid NFL starters, and Banjo is a good special teams player. The ability of Jamerson to play safety as well as cornerback allows the team some additional versatility in the secondary. SPECIALISTS (3)Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY SportsThomas Morstead, Wil Lutz, Zach Wood The Saints boast one of the better punter/kicker duos in the league with Morstead and Lutz , along with a steady and consistent long snapper in Woods. Tate and Scott have emerged from the pack as solid potential kick returners this preseason, solidifying their roster spots. With an extremely limited number of opportunities left to make an impression on coaches, the chances for some players to keep their NFL dreams alive could lie in a single offensive or defensive snap, or with a standout special teams performance in each of these final two games.Keys to success: Cam Jordan and Saints defensive line “trending” upward as they await the Browns Following yet another opening day L to start the season both Cameron Jordan and Sean Payton gave their thoughts on what lead to a shoddy defensive performance.Now what if I told you those quotes were following the loss to the Vikings LAST YEAR in Week 1 and then pointed out how similar they were to this years assessment?Three years of data going back to 2016 suggest that the Saints defensive line is a notoriously slow starting unit that improves significantly from week 1 to week 2.In 2016 vs the Raiders they produced 0 scks, 4 def, and 3 QB hits.They followed that up with a 2 sck, 4 def, 2 QB hit performance. They doubled their sacks and Cam Jordan himself seemed to wake up from his slumber by chipping in with 8 tcks 2.5 for loss, 1 pdef, and a sack after only posting 1 solo tackle and a QB hit against OaklandIn 2017 vs the Vikings it was more of the same.They generated 1 scks, 2 pdef, and 2 QB hits only to come out the next week and double down on every category with 2 scks, 4 pdef, and 4 QB hits vs Tom Brady and the Patriots.Last Sunday vs Tampa Bay the defensive front posted a paltry stat line of 0 scks, 3 pdef, and 2 QB hits that fell right in line with their week 1 modus operandi.That brings us to the Browns and their QB Tyrod TaylorScott R. Galvin-USA TODAY SportsThe last time the Saints faced off against the Browns elusive quarterback(then with the Bills) they generated 2 sacks, 5 pass def, and 3 QB hits. Taylor delivered a performance that was so abysmal it got him benched in favor of rookie Nathan Peterman.Ironically enough after joining the Browns #5 is in a similar scenario but with a much higher profile rookie, Baker Mayfield, waiting in the wings.Meanwhile his Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley employs 5 step drops that are designed to attack downfield and Tyrod likes to hold onto the ball. When both factors of that relationship are working this can result in chunk yardage plays but when it’s not it gets your QB beat up. This was not more evident than in last weeks game vs the Steelers as Pittsburgh racked up 7 sacks, 10 pass def, and 11 QB hits of Taylor.While the New Orleans defensive line will find themselves hard pressed to duplicate such a dominant effort, Cleveland’s scheme and QB should give them ample enough chances to try.Now to jump into some burning questions the Saints need to answer heading into Week 2.Which new receiver steps up to claim a role?Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY SportsNew Orleans has three receivers on the 53 that weren’t there a year ago. Austin Carr, Tre’quan Smith, and Cam Meredith combined for 2 catches and 22 yards on 2 targets in Week 1. Against Tampa Ben Watson proved to be reliable in key situations (the seam route was beautiful) and Ted Ginn continued his potency in the deep threat role most recently occupied by Brandin Cooks.Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara can’t sustain last weeks production for 16 games so one of the aforementioned players needs to separate from the pack. I expect the picture to be a little clearer after the final whistle on Sunday.Where will the running game come from?Chuck Cook-USA TODAY SportsSean Payton said he “hated that the game got one dimensional”.Drew Brees ended up throwing 45 passes and while the offense put up 40 points it wasn’t because they were balanced.One could even assume that lack of balance lead indirectly to the defensive line seeing 50+ snaps last Sunday.New Orleans has yet to call Boston Scott up from the practice squad hinting that if Payton has a plan to remain balanced it’s going to happen because he trust either Mike Gillislee or Jonathan Williams to get the job done.After a paltry 3.4 yards per carry effort vs Tampa one can only assume the run game has been a point of emphasis this week.Who’s the man in the middle ?Chuck Cook-USA TODAY SportsI get that the Saints are rotating LB’s to figure out who does what best but your Mike LB is the last position that should be unclear in week 2.When asked about it following the game, none of the LB’s seemed to have a clue they’d be rotated the way they were during the game.All responded valiantly with some variation of “I do my job when my number is called” but it’s slightly concerning that the guy who will play next to Davis in over 60% of the snaps hasn’t been chosen yet.Random Thought – Cleveland’s O-line is mushy on the left side after the retirement of Joe Thomas. Marcus Davenport will see more than the 23 defensive snaps he saw against Tampa. Rookie gets the first sack of his NFL career.Though I’d like to have written a section about the secondary I’m going to take Marshon Lattimore’s word that “there’s nothing to panic about” just yet. The defensive line has more draft collateral thrown into it and is the engine that makes the entire train go. I need to see that unit tune things up before I can give an accurate assessment of the defensive backs. Sean Payton vs Gregg Williams is its own storyline but I think New Orleans overcomes their history vs Cleveland.Saints win 30-20


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