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New Orleans Saints with Preseason Momentum: Defense

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Saints defensive players have shined during training camp, and look to carry that momentum into preseason.

NFL: New Orleans Saints-Minicamp Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

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.

CB Ken Crawley #46

Ken Crawley (Colorado) is another intriguing undrafted free agent. The 6-foot-even, 190-pound defensive back has a coveted combination of ideal size and ball skills; though Crawley only came down with four interceptions in his collegiate career, he picked off the NFL’s most-accurate passer three times in two days and snagged an off-target pass from New England Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

Other young corners like last year’s draft pick P.J. Williams (Florida State), De’Vante Harris (Texas A&M), and Jimmy Pruitt (San Jose State) are chomping at the bit, but at the moment Crawley looks to be the lead challenger for Brian Dixon’s roster spot. With Keenan Lewis’ availability in question, it’s going to fall to guys like these to make our Brandon Browner-shaped night terrors fade away.

LB Craig Robertson #52

Signing Craig Robertson away from the Cleveland Browns was an under-the-radar move that has already paid dividends for the New Orleans Saints. Robertson was not talked up like many other free agents but his impact as a quality coverage linebacker could shore up one of the most glaring weaknesses in the Saints’ defense. Robertson has been something like Kryptonite in defending stacked tight end groups in New Orleans and New England, knocking passes from the hands of Coby Fleener and locking down Martellus Bennett.

Robertson has had an exciting training camp so far, making plays in pass coverage as well as run defense. His quick acceleration helps him overwhelm blocking running backs despite his slighter frame (Robertson is listed at 6-foot-1, 234-pounds). His arrow is firmly trending upwards, but an impressive performance in live action will do a lot to solidify his job security moving forward. If Robertson passes muster against the Patriots, then we’ll know this is not a drill: the Saints will have a linebacker who is experienced, good in coverage, and athletic all at the same time.

FS Erik Harris #30

Erik Harris was a teammate and close friend of Delvin Breaux for the Canadian Football League’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats, but the 6-foot-3, 215-pound safety was signed onto the New Orleans Saints on his own merits (though Breaux showing up to support him during his team workout probably helped morale). Harris has a rare combination of length and range that lets him affect plays all over the field.

Thanks to the shenanigans in football played north of the border, Harris is experienced in coverage single-high, over the slot, off the line of scrimmage, in zones, etc. With the expected starters at safety (Jairus Byrd and Kenny Vaccaro) playing sparingly in this week’s exhibition game, Harris should seize the opportunity to show what he can do.

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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