As we count down from 50 days until the New Orleans Saints begin their regular season in Atlanta, on September 7th, we're getting to know a little bit about those players who have signed on to bring home another Lombardi trophy.
Today, we take a brief look at running back Travaris Cadet and tight end Josh Hill.
So, with no more ado:
39 DAYS UNTIL ATLANTA!!!
#39 RB Travaris Cadet (3rd year)
One of the first players I remember Sean Payton mentioning after his return to New Orleans early last year was Travaris Cadet. And after learning about the Cadet's path to the NFL, and his work ethic, I grew to like the young, versatile talent even more. After the 2012 NFL Draft, the Saints picked him up as an undrafted free agent out of Appalachian State, where he had played for three years after a tumultuous start to his football career.
Cadet came out of high school as the 19th rated quarterback in the nation in 2007. His senior year at Miami Central, he had thrown for 1,391 yards with 13 TD passes, rushed for more than 450 yards with two touchdowns, and also served as the team’s punter and placekicker. Despite being courted by several high-profile schools, Cadet shocked the world of college sports by deciding to join several of his friends at Toledo. Due to issues for which the school was reportedly to blame, the promising young athlete -- who had surprisingly been redshirted his freshman year -- came to regret his decision to attend Toledo and decided to escape the situation by taking his talents to Pearl River Community College, roughly an hour from from New Orleans.
In 2008, Cadet was used off and on during the season, as a quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and return specialist. It wasn't long before several schools were knocking on his door once again, and after an offer from Kansas State fell through, Cadet ended up signing with Appalachian State.
In 2009, Travaris was called upon as a wide receiver and on special teams, and once as a quarterback. He finished the season with 900 all-purpose yards. In 2010, Cadet would be used in the slot and at running back after he had hurt his thumb, and finished with 671 rushing yards on 115 attempts, and 1694 all-purpose yards. In 2011, he finished the last year of his college career with another 1703 all-purpose yards, including six more touchdowns rushing and one receiving.
Once he had worked his way into the NFL, the rookie UDFA made it difficult for New Orleans to cut him; and the Saints had ended up with five running backs on the 53-man roster in 2012. Particularly after early-season injuries to Marques Colston and Devery Henderson, the team decided to cross-train him as a wide receiver. Although he hardly saw the field as an offensive player his rookie year, he was primarily a special teams player that handled kickoff return duties after Darren Sproles fractured his hand. Last year, Cadet appeared in 13 games, registering a 26.6 kickoff return average while also posting five special teams stops. He also returned one punt, and had two receptions for five yards and a touchdown.
Cadet is a versatile weapon on offense and special teams, and has a very strong work ethic. That the Saints saw enough in him as a rookie to keep him on the 53-man roster as a fifth running back speaks volumes to his potential value to the team. With Darren Sproles and Chris Ivory gone, the four-man committee of running backs is all but etched in stone.
On multiple occasions since Sproles departed, Sean Payton has discussed the possibility of Travaris filling the role left open by the veteran scatback. "He's a guy with good hands, he's sudden with a good change of direction. And I think that is one of the things we'll look for in this upcoming training camp," the Saints head coach said of Cadet. "He's been able to do a lot of the things we've asked Darren to do in the passing game. You just keep building on that. He's a good young talent."
It is more likely that no one player will fill the hole Sproles left, but rather that Cadet and rookie WR Brandin Cooks will each take some of those plays while finding other ways to contribute. That said, the Saints have given Travaris Cadet a lot of work this summer as the passing downs back in the offense, much like what Darren Sproles did. He has flashed speed and elusiveness, making him good in the slot because he can get separation on guys on slant routes.
Even though many consider Cadet to be behind Pierre Thomas, Mark Ingram and Khiry Robinson on the roster, there is a good chance that he will have opportunities to shine in 2014. If he makes the most of those opportunities, the Saints will likely snatch him from the jaws of another team in his RFA year, a la Rafael Bush.
3 yr(s) / $1,445,000. Average: $481,667 per year through 2014.
#89 TE Josh Hill (2nd year)
Another UDFA who made the 53-man roster his rookie year, Josh Hill was picked up by the Saints after last year's draft. He played in 14 games with three starts as a rookie, and had his ups and downs. There were several weeks where it seemed like Saints fans were being treated to drops and other mistakes at the hands of Hill on passing downs. However, he did manage to tally six receptions for 44 yards with one touchdown, while adding three special teams stops.
Hill is practically guaranteed a spot on the roster behind fellow tight ends Jimmy Graham and Benjamin Watson this year, so Saints fans should hope he has made the most of his opportunity to train and learn along side the veterans. He is unlikely to make a splash on anyone's fantasy teams, but another year of familiarity with the Saints offense should give him the opportunity to compete for more playing time.
I expect Sean Payton will likely use him for at least one end reverse in 2014. Will it be a genius move from one of the best coaches in the NFL, or a head scratcher from a guy who should stick to what works?
3 yr(s) / $1,490,000. Average: $496,670 per year through 2015