The wait is over.
New Orleans Saints football is officially back in full swing. The team will travel to Houston on Saturday to take on the Texans in their first preseason matchup. Many young players as well as older veterans, will be showcasing their talents in a battle to make the 53-man roster. There have been many positive reports coming out of training camp practices about many players making great impressions on the team so far. Based on the talent and depth on this team, it will be tough to make this team at almost any position on this roster. But if some squeeze their way in, they have most definitely earned it. We’ve seen many undrafted players like Pierre Thomas, Taysom Hill, Lance Moore, Deonte Harty, Delvin Breaux and many more make huge impacts on this team. As well as many newly signed veterans looking to revive their careers in a new home. A reminder that you can write your own story in this league if you make your talents known.
With that being said, here’s some of the players I highlighted as possible standouts and ones to watch in the Saints first preseason game.
Yes, Taylor is a highly drafted prospect, but his position group gives his no room for slacking. With a deep cornerback room full of proven players like Marshon Lattimore, Paulson Adebo, Bradley Roby and even C.J. Gardner-Johnson as a nickel specialist, Taylor will likely need to make himself known in the preseason to earn his minutes on defense. The talent level and the physical attributes are all there, the competition is the only question mark on where he stands come week one.
Kentavius Street is one of the most interesting names for me personally mostly due to the uncertainty behind David Onyemata at defensive tackle. There are a few players that were known as mostly rotational guys such as Malcolm Roach and Shy Tuttle that are pushing for that starting role, but Street has put his name into the conversation. He also gets to pair back up with his former college coach Ryan Nielson who he believes can unleash some untapped potential within his game.
Probably one of my favorite players to hear about this whole training camp. It seems like every day a report comes out saying how intriguing Kirk Merritt has been so far. Merritt would probably make the team any other year if he coupled his training camp performance with a decent preseason but with the depth at the wide receiver position this year, he will likely have to be outstanding in these next few weeks to send one of the top 5-6 guys packing. However, Merritt’s unique quickness and electric playmaking ability should definitely land him on the practice squad if all else fails.
A once highly touted second round pick will have to make his talents known again to compete for snaps this season. Evans missed significant time during his tenure with the Buccaneers due to injury which ended up in his departure from the team. An interesting note I recalled from when OTAs first started, was when Nick Underhill at NewOrleans.Football reported that Justin Evans was his sleeper player for this team because of his unique athleticism specifically in the way he moved. Evans will look to find in himself the starting caliber player he once was this preseason. With a strong performance, he will solidify himself along with P.J. Williams as the next guys up at safety behind starters Marcus Maye and Tyrann Mathieu.
Tony Jones Jr./Abram Smith
One of these two guys could go from very little to no snaps in the regular season to possibly a significant number of carries per game. Alvin Kamara’s pending suspension holds the cards for these two individuals. If he ends up missing time and the team doesn’t feel the need to add a player via trade/free agency, it’ll be up to one of these guys to separate themselves and take on that number two running back role until Kamara returns.