Third-round tight end Adam Trautman and undrafted free agent defensive lineman Malcolm Roach were the only Saints rookies that saw playing time against Tampa. 24th overall pick Cesar Ruiz was ruled inactive due to an ankle injury.
Roach saw 23 snaps while Trautman saw just seven. While neither made a huge impact, both have started to carve out roles for themselves moving forward.
The Saints OL held up well against the Bucs, but the interior is still where they need to see improvement (maybe in the form of rookie Cesar Ruiz if he can get healthy).— Jeff Nowak (@Jeff_Nowak) September 14, 2020
Saints OL was credited with 1 sack allowed (Nick Easton) and 5 pressures:
- McCoy: 2
- Easton: 2
- Peat: 1
The New Orleans offensive line gave up just one sack and five pressures to the Buccaneers. If Ruiz can come back healthy, he would certainly bolster the interior protection for quarterback Drew Brees.
A center from Michigan, Ruiz was named to the All-Big 10 second team as a junior in 2019. He was the highest-graded pass blocking center in the nation, according to PFF College.
Ruiz has been competing for snaps at both center and guard.
“I don’t have a preference, really,” Ruiz said during training camp last month. “Just really trying to learn all the positions throughout the interior. So, (I’m) going back and forth between everything and learning as much as I can right now.”
Rookie linebacker Zack Baun was also among the Saints’ inactives. He was scratched from the lineup along with undrafted receiver Marquez Callaway and sophomore defensive tackle Shy Tuttle.
Originally projected as a late first to early second round pick, Baun fell to New Orleans in the third. The former Wisconsin linebacker shot up draft boards after recording 75 total tackles, 19.5 for loss, and 12.5 sacks in 2019.
Baun could provide immediate help to a Saints linebacker corps that has dealt with a plethora of injuries over the years. Linebacker Alex Anzalone played in 16 games for New Orleans in 2018 but just four in 2017 and two in 2019.
The departure of veteran linebacker A.J. Klein opened up a huge opportunity for Baun to start alongside Anzalone and Demario Davis. Davis, who recently signed a 3-year extension worth $27 million, is one of the team’s premier defensive playmakers and could help ease Baun into the gameplan.
Ruiz and Baun’s status for Week 2 remains up in the air. New Orleans will get an extra day of preparation for Monday night’s matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders as both rookies aim to make their debuts.