We all know there is a battle going on this preseason for that last running back slot on the roster. What I can gather from what's being said in some parts of the internet, Saints fans are split into two main camps.
One camp believes Chris Ivory will retain his place on the roster, while the other camp wants to see Travaris Cadet get a chance to earn a spot. Normally I don't try to predict who lands on the final 53-man roster publicly, but this battle may already be decided folks.
Last night I was watching "Outside the Huddle" on Cox Sports Television and a little blurb popped up about Cadet's performance so far this preseason. Apparently he's leading the entire NFL in receptions and receiving yards (19 catches, 171 yards). On any other team this stat would seem strange since Cadet is a running back, but the Saints have one of the most effective screen games in the league.
Join me after the jump to see how good of a camp Cadet is having in comparison to Chris Ivory.
I like Chris Ivory. I really do. But the NFL is about production and so far he hasn't produced enough to warrant a roster spot. I realize this is preseason but this is the time to clean out the excess, and to bring in the potential stars. If you're a Saints fan you know Ivory has filled in when our backfield was really hurting. The only problem is he's had more injury trouble over the last couple of years and his production has dropped off because of it.
Another issue Ivory is currently struggling with is holding onto the ball. There are multiple reports surfacing from camp about Ivory's fumbling problems. If you look closely at some of the film from the Jacksonville game you'll notice Ivory has some tape around his carrying arm near the top of his bicep. This is an old trick used by running back coaches to help players secure the ball by reminding them to have three points of contact with the ball.
The last point I'd like to discuss is the fact that Ivory is not a multi-dimensional back. Again, the Saints are extremely proficient running screen plays. Some fans say the Saints need Ivory because of his power running style. I must retort by saying when Ivory is on the field it tells opposing defenses they're facing a running play. Not to mention, the three backs guaranteed roster spots already aren't too shabby themselves when running between the tackles.
It may not be their specialty, but Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles don't mind running the ball up the middle either, and I don't think I need to remind you about their ability to run a screen play. While Mark Ingram can be described as a power runner he still has the ability to catch passes out of the backfield. So considering the tendencies of the Saints offense, Ivory is actually the odd man out. Cadet has similar abilities to the other backs the Saints keep in their stable so he is a more natural fit when compared to Ivory.
Looking at the stats, Cadet is leading the NFL (this includes Julio Jones) in receptions (19) and receiving yards (171) like I mentioned earlier. This stat is a little skewed because they are counting the HOF Game against Arizona, but it's nice to see a Saint at the top of the list.
He has also gained 55 yards on the ground in comparison to Ivory's 73, but both running backs are only averaging 2.9 yards per carry. Of course Ivory is more of a pure runner which shows in his stats because he's only caught one pass. While he did gain 15 yards on that pass I know he's been targeted more than once because I watched him drop at least one against Jacksonville.
Cadet also leads Ivory in one of the most important stats in football which is touchdowns. Cadet has scored twice while Ivory still hasn't found the endzone this preseason.
So while there may be sentimental value attached to Chris Ivory, the Saints would be making a mistake to pass on Cadet. He fits the offensive scheme better than Ivory, and sentimental value doesn't account for much in the NFL.