We're now getting back to our early examination of the 2010 Saints training camp roster and evaluating which players will and will not make the final cut. This time our discussion brings us to the safety position.
There are a lot of familiar faces here from last year with the exception of Malcolm Jenkins, who is expected to make the transition from corner to safety, and undrafted free agent Ryan Hamilton. The starting spots seem pretty locked up but I think it's safe to say that special teams play will weigh heavily on the coaches final decision for most of the remaining roster spots.
After reading my personal evaluations below, feel free to share your own thoughts and opinions on the subject.
Darren Sharper, Roman Harper
We're all now well aware that Darren Sharper has re-signed with the Saints and will be returning for another season and a chance for a second Super Bowl championship. The defensive difference maker is a key piece of coordinator Gregg Williams' scheme and allows him to be aggressive on other areas of the field. No question here that Sharper makes and starts for the 2010 Saints.
Restricted free agent Roman Harper still needs to sign a new contract but like Pierre Thomas and Lance Moore, it's all but certain he'll be back in black - and gold - next season. If so, the chances are very good he remains the starting strong safety for the defense. At the very least, he definitely makes the final roster.
Malcolm Jenkins, Chris Reis, Pierson Prioleau
Though he was exclusively a cornerback last year, I think it's safe to say now that the Saints are planning on moving Malcolm Jenkins to the safety position this year. Coach Sean Payton made reference to that fact in his press conference at rookie mini-camp this weekend. Hopefully it will be a smooth transition and we'll see him contribute quickly and significantly but if not, I'm sure the Saints will have patience. Either way, it's a pretty done deal that Jenkins is on the final roster for another season.
Chrs Reis and Pierson Prioleau both have excellent chances of cracking the roster simply for their special teams ability. Prioleau, who has followed Gregg Williams around the league throughout his career is a favorite of the defensive coordinator, meaning he's got a leg up on the competition. Reis also seems to have won over the hearts of Saints coaches with his hard work and attitude. I often compare him to former Saint, Steve Gleason.
On the Bubble
Usama Young, Chip Vaughn
This could very well be a make or break year for Usama Young, as he'll really need to show he's progressing at safety if the Saints want to keep him on their team. Like Jenkins this year, Young made the switch from cornerback to safety last summer. Young, who seems now to be most remembered for giving up that touchdown in the Super Bowl, will look to erase that play from the memory of Saints fans.
As for Chip Vaughn, we really don't know what to expect because we haven't yet had a chance to see what he can do. If any or all of the hype surrounding him is true, it might be fair to move him up to the "likely" list. Regardless, he's still got a lot of work cut out for him during training camp.
Former Vanderbilt standout Ryan Hamilton easily has the furthest to go and the most to prove of the bunch if he wants to be considered for the practice squad, let alone the final 53-man roster. Unless he pulls out all the stops this summer, I don't think he'll be a member of the team when the the regular season begins.