Football things are happening: preseason games are kicking off (and being cancelled), training camp battles are heating up, and the New Orleans Saints saved Monday by smacking the New England Patriots around in practice.
If they’re expecting to repeat that feat, the Saints will have to see production from several players sitting on the roster bubble. With the first fifteen roster cuts looming on August 30th, nobody needs to show off more than these guys.
WR Tommylee Lewis #87
The diminutive undrafted receiver out of Northern Illinois has proven to be a firecracker in practice even after the pads came on, though Tommylee Lewis is listed at only 5-foot-7 and barely 170-pounds. The endorsement of Bill Parcells, head coach Sean Payton’s famous mentor, outweighed any concerns about Lewis’ size and got him a training camp tryout – which the fiery 23-year-old has seized and run with.
Lewis averaged 12.4-yards per touch (catches, carries, and special teams returns combined) in college and has scored in a number of ways in training camp. Lewis has been noted for his Darren Sproles-like acceleration and should get his share of looks in preseason exhibition.
OL Tyrus Thompson #74
Surviving the NFL as an offensive lineman is tough if you aren’t a clear-cut starter, but it helps to be versatile. Former Minnesota Vikings draft pick Tyrus Thompson has experience at guard and tackle, which gives him a unique skills set shared only by presumptive starter Andrus Peat.
Tyrus Thompson with a good rep https://t.co/WJQW9obCZC— Amos Morale III (@Amos_MoraleIII) August 1, 2016
Thompson has been filling in behind Zach Strief at right tackle lately, but his ability to move inside in a pinch is underrated. If he’s gotten over the early-season struggles that cost his job in Minnesota, Thompson could be a dark horse to win a roster spot over a more-heralded prospect like Landon Turner, who has only played guard.
RB Daniel Lasco #36
Daniel Lasco is the second running back drafted by the Saints in as many years, but his future could be bright if he stays healthy and tightens up his ball security. Lasco has done everything you’d like to see out of a running back: he can catch passes, carry the ball, and looks to be the most-comfortable among his position group at picking up blitzing defenders. He may be, pound-for-pound, the freakiest athlete on the team.
Daniel Lasco hits Vonn Bell with the truck stick. https://t.co/6E7bWDUPfA— Josh Katzenstein (@jkatzenstein) August 4, 2016
The trouble with Lasco is that the numbers aren’t in his favor. Both Marcus Murphy and Travaris Cadet have spent more time playing in Sean Payton’s offense than him, and they can also both return punts and kickoffs on special teams. But Lasco has his own advantages, like his superb ability as a special teams gunner; he led the University of California in special teams tackles in 2014, his last full healthy season. Lasco needs to use these opportunities in the preseason to show his skills translate to the NFL.
These are far from the only Saints looking to cut their teeth and make a name in the NFL. You can catch the first preseason exhibition game live this Thursday, August 11, on NFL Network at 6:30 PM CST.
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