The New Orleans Saints closed out their 2016 preseason in the same manner as last season, losing all of their games. The black and gold fell to the Baltimore Ravens 23-14 in a game that had some encouraging moments from the first-team offense, but fell off very quickly afterwards. Here’s a look at our winners and losers from Thursday night’s contest.
Marcus Murphy - Murphy was the all-purpose yardage leader last night, and he had several impressive plays in receiving, returning, and rushing. It was encouraging to see what Murphy could bring to the table after being challenged and scolded publicly by head coach Sean Payton. However, Murphy has to hope that it wasn’t too little, too late.
John Jenkins - The veteran interior lineman has had a quiet training camp, and was someone I put high up on my roster bubble list before things got started. Jenkins had two sacks on the night and three tackles. However, like Murphy, we have to wonder if it this comes a little late in the game to help his case for the final roster.
Tim Hightower - It’s been a relatively quiet preseason for Hightower, but he reminded us all of how valuable he is in the running game. He had three rushes where he had 9 yards in each attempt, one of which was called back due to a holding, and he also had a 6-yard rush attempt on the night. He should stay as the Mark Ingram insurance plan.
Craig Robertson - I was impressed mostly by Robertson’s ability to move across the field. He has some very quick closing speed, and showed he skills in coverage and blitzing (which led to a sack). The Saints got an extensive look at Robertson last night in the 50 snaps he played, and I’d say the team has a strong depth player at linebacker.
Connor Barth - He made his lone field goal attempt from 40 yards, and while Kai Forbath also made his attempt from 36 yards, it was Barth’s kickoff duties that looked better. In such a tight race, it’s subtle things that help one player over another. He’d be my definitive choice in the 2016 campaign.
Ken Crawley - Crawley had an opportunity to really distance himself as a backup cornerback on the team's roster. However, he didn't play up to par and reminded us all why he was an undrafted rookie free agent. Mistakes in coverage and penalties highlighted his night, and Crawley could actually lose his roster spot to veteran Cortland Finnegan as a result.
Marcus Henry - The Saints wanted to see what they had in the undrafted rookie free agent, as he got the nod over Jack Allen. Unfortunately, it was all sorts of wrong. Henry gave up multiple pressures, and his biggest mistake led to a sack-fumble on Luke McCown. The end result was a Ravens touchdown and knowing that Henry isn’t the guy to back up Max Unger.
Garrett Grayson - After taking over late in the second quarter for the rest of the way, Grayson didn’t exactly have a ‘wow’ kind of performance that everyone was hoping for. Now, the numbers speak in his favor after he finished 11-of-16 for 98 yards and a touchdown pass (105.7 QB Rating). However, he was sacked twice on the night, under constant pressure, and didn’t get any help from a beautifully thrown ball to Tommylee Lewis that wasn’t hauled in.
Tony Hills - At one point last night, I said I had seen enough of Hills. He was pretty bad at left tackle, and this leaves the Saints with a huge question mark as to who the reserve offensive tackle will be behind Terron Armstead and Zach Strief. Hills is not the answer, especially is Armstead has any setbacks from injury. The Saints must get help elsewhere.
Andrus Peat - It’s probably unfair to keep taking jabs at the offensive line, but you can’t ignore the play. It looked as though Peat had it all figured out on the Saints first offensive drive, as he played fairly strong at left guard. It was fool’s gold. Peat failed to pick up a defender that had a free run at Drew Brees, as the replay showed three Saints offensive lineman ended up blocking one Ravens player.