The New Orleans Saints finally (and mercifully) ended the 2017 NFL preseason Thursday night in the Mercedes Benz Superdome, in a 14-13 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. None of the players you really wanted to see on the field played, however there were some performances that mattered, especially from players on the bubble hoping for a last shot at impressing the coaches, not only those from the Saints’ staff, but also from every other NFL team. Here’s what we saw last night in the Superdome:
Winner: Adam Bighill
As fans, we can joke about the fourth preseason game being just a “bunch of scrubs” out there, guys that will likely be watching the regular season just like us, on TV. However, there are some amazing stories among those backups, men coming from humble beginnings trying their best to realize a lifelong dream of playing in the NFL. It’s a long shot for most of them, but a few will find themselves on a practice squad after the roster cuts on Saturday. Some may even be good enough to earn a roster spot on an NFL team. Adam Bighill is one of those players who may just find himself, if not on the Saints 53-man roster, on an NFL practice squad this season. Bighill has played for the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League for the past six seasons after going undrafted out of Central Washington University in 2011. Last night, as he has done throughout the preseason when called upon, Bighill was all over the field, with 11 tackles (8 solo) and one pass breakup. Bighill has a…big hill to climb to make the Saints, but when New Orleans signed him to a “three-year futures” contract in January, Saints Director of Pro Scouting Terry Fontenot was quoted as saying: “he blew us away in the workout.” Whether he makes it or not, here’s a guy who fought his heart out to make his dreams of playing in the NFL come true.
Winner: Darius Victor
Another great underdog story this preseason is the diminutive running back from Liberia. Victor, one of seven children, was born in 1994 in a refugee camp in Ivory Coast. His family was fleeing the civil war that was ravaging their native Liberia. He and his family lived in that refugee camp until he was five years old before moving to the United States. Victor played running back at Towson University in Maryland, and after not being selected in the 2017 NFL draft, he ended up joining the Saints as an undrafted free agent this offseason. Throughout the preseason, Victor displayed the toughness and the grit that has characterized an impressive list of undrafted free agent running backs that the Saints have discovered and signed (Pierre Thomas, Khiry Robinson, Chris Ivory). With the New Orleans having a loaded backfield with Ingram, Peterson, Kamara and potentially Lasco or Cadet, I expect Victor to get cut and end up on the Saints’ practice squad, unless another NFL team snatches him up. Count me among those who hope that no one outside of New Orleans noticed how good he can be.
The preseason is over folks. This upcoming week we can all relax and watch a bunch of NFL games, enjoy the Falcons starting their inevitably nightmarish “Super Bowl hangover” season, see the Panthers get smacked and the Bucs fall on their face. Then on Monday Night Football on September 11, Breesus and his Black and Gold warriors will invade Minnesota to start the season 1-0 for the first time since 2013! Football, real football is here y’all!
- There was a time when it looked as though wide receiver Corey Fuller was in serious contention for a spot on the Saints’ 53-man roster. On Thursday, Fuller was on the field to try and prove that he deserved a chance. The former Detroit Lions however was playing with backups, which didn’t help his case. One reception on four targets, for a meager four yards. Should the Saints keep five wideouts, Fuller may still have a shot, behind Michael Thomas, Willie Snead, Ted Ginn Jr., and Brandon Coleman (none of whom played last night). But it’s a very long shot at this point.
- Former LSU wide receiver Travin Dural started last night and had four catches on eight targets for 56 yards and a long reception of 26 yards. Dural hasn’t shown enough to earn a roster spot, but he seems to be a prime candidate for the practice squad, which should give him time to develop for the future. Remember that a player like Lance Moore spent time on the practice squad before becoming a mainstay in Sean Payton’s offense. Dural could still have a long NFL career ahead of him.
- I feel bad for saying this but: Garrett Grayson should just get cut. 13 attempts, 2 completions. That’s all.
- No such thing as perfection under the sun…how sad. Well, the bugaboo that plagued placekicker Wil Lutz last season resurfaced last night: low kick trajectory, leading to blocked kicks. Lutz had a 49-yarder blocked last night and went 2 for 4 overall in field goals (he also missed a potential game-winning 59-yard field goal attempt). Sure, overall the Saints’ kicker finished the preseason 8 for 10 and that is acceptable since the preseason is the place for experimentation. For instance, the missed 59-yard field goal last night would likely not have been attempted in a regular season game. But with his history of blocked kicks, Lutz had better shore up his kicks’ trajectory, otherwise we all know what’ll happen: Sean Payton is going to line up a bunch of free agent kickers for workouts in Metairie.
What has you most hopeful about the 2017 Saints?
This poll is closed
The defense seems much improved
We still have the one and only Drew Breeeeeeees
Hot-seated Sean Payton will work harder
Playoffs? P...Playoffs??? Oh you said hopeful
All the burgers that I’ll eat on Sundays