Stock Watch: Saints Exchange
The preseason is steadily rolling along and the New Orleans Saints are crafting and carving their roster into a championship caliber team. Player for player, the Saints can go toe to toe with the other powerhouse teams at the top of both conferences. But this season, the Saints are also developing talented depth. After the third preseason game, which featured the first live game action of Drew Brees, Jairus Byrd, and Champ Bailey, we take a look at the guys who aren't a lock to make the roster as the first big cuts approach.
On The Rise
WR, Joseph Morgan - All week long I've talked about wanting to see Morgan do something besides go deep and wouldn't ya know it - he did against the Colts! Morgan's longest catch was 17 yards but he totaled 27 yards on 3 catches. The importance of showing diversity is job security for Captain Morgan. With the wealth of talented WRs on the roster, some very diverse, Morgan needs to show he do whatever is asked of him to make the final roster. Morgan seems to have bounced back from injury to continue his bid to be a key player in Sean Payton's offense.
S, Vinnie Sunseri - Not my cousin Vinnie had another good game on Saturday night. While Sunseri has been in an intense competition for a spot on the roster, he has also separated himself from his primary competition in Pierre Warren and Marcus Ball. An instinctive player, the young safety seems to find his way to the action, constantly ending plays near the ball. His special teams contributions make him a tempting keeper who could develop into a solid backup. He finds the ball like a slower, poor man's Troy Polamalu. I like his chances to make the final 53!
CB, Champ Bailey - At this point in his extraordinary career, Bailey has little to nothing to prove to anyone, except maybe himself. After an unceremonious exit from the Denver Broncos following 2013, it is easy to believe that Champ wants to leave the game on his own terms. Now, you think, "why is Champ Bailey on this list of players?" The answer is simple, because he is on the bubble for making this roster. So his appearance in Saturday's game was ultra important in determining if Bailey would bring any value to the black & gold. In scrub time in the 2nd half, Champ contributed 1 solo tackle and looked fluid in his coverage on limited snaps.
WR, Brandon Coleman - The big rookie pass catcher is in a fight for his job. At times it seems his biggest competition is himself. Let me explain! There are many talented WRs on the roster right now, but if Coleman can avoid the dropsies and stay focused on getting his job done, he would surpass quite a few of his second tier contemporaries. The last week was quiet for Coleman, but in a good way. That said, he has done enough make it onto the 75 man roster. His two catches Saturday were solid and he showed great effort on his routes. I'm hoping he continues his progress and remains a Saint. Also, I believe this is one of the best places for him to develop.
OLB, Ronald Powell - Is it just me or are the Saints gathering a nice collection of young LBs? My personal theory is that the failure to develop LB talent has forced the team to find players who are more NFL ready day one. Powell seems to have bounced back from injury and actually led the team in tackles versus the Colts. Powell is another instinctive player who is outplaying his roster mates at his position. Based on his performance so far this preseason, Ronald will at least grab a spot by contributing on special teams and being a depth player to start.
CB, Stanley Jean-Baptiste - SJB came into the 3rd preseason game riding a wave of good and bad from the previous week. In week three, Jean-Baptiste was able to do a better job in coverage, mainly by not getting burned. Because the Saints invested a 2nd round in SJB, I don't think he's in danger of being left off the roster. But if he wants to see much time on the field this season, he'll need to steadily show improvement in coverage.
On The Decline
S, Pierre Warren - It is head scratching that it is reported that Warren is outstanding in practice, but seems out of place come game day. Each week it seems like he is regressing when the lights come on. With the big three safety spots locked up and Sunseri securing a fourth, Warren and Marcus Ball maybe on the outside looking in come cut time. Working in Warren's favor is that he is practice squad eligible and probably won't be snatched up by someone else. I see a red shirt in his future.
Offensive Line Depth - Simple and plain, the second half of Saturday's game brought with it uninspired offensive line play. The previously sharp Ryan Griffin looked very out of sync as he experienced pressure throughout the half. I must say that the two guards who filled in for our Pro Bowlers have done well. Senio Kelemete and Marcel Jones held their own with the first unit, but on Saturday, the 2nd team looked horrible. Luckily they should not all be playing at the same time in any regular season games, well besides blow outs. Let's all hope and wish for offensive line health!
With one more preseason game to go, we'll get one last long look at many of these bubble players because most of the starters will see limited to no action. Some battles for depth will be settled against the Ravens and I'm excited to see who makes the final cuts at linebacker, cornerback, safety, wide receiver, and quarterback. Which position battles interest you most? Comment below!
This series will wrap when the 53-man roster and PS is announced and we'll roll into the Rookie Rundown. This season we will cover the 2014 draft class AND the undrafted free agents. Rookies who make the active roster will get weekly reports while PS players will receive quarterly updates.