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July 29, 2011; Metairie, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints rookie safety Isa Abdul-Quddus (left) wraps up tight end Michael Higgins (right) during the first day of training camp at the New Orleans Saints practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

New Orleans Saints Practice squad ripe with talent

When the New Orleans Saints announced their final 53-man roster there weren’t many surprises.

The team was deep at several positions, including wide receiver and tight end, and  a few veterans were chosen over promising younger players simply because these “rookies” were eligible for the practice squad.

DE Braylon Broughton, LB Ezra Butler, G Ricky Henry, G Harland Gunn, TE Michael Higgins, CB Nick Hixson, S Jerico Nelson and WR Andy Tanner will comprise the Saints eight man practice squad for now.

Players like receiver Andy Tanner, tight end Michael Higgins, linebacker Ezra Butler, and corner Nick Hixson could likely be starters on other teams.

Tanner was hot in the preseason recording eight receptions for 120 yards — which lead the team at the time – until an ankle injury forced him to the sideline for the last two games

New Orleans is currently carrying six receivers on the roster, and if any goes down with an injury the Saints won’t hesitate to promote Tanner to the active roster.

Higgins had caught the eye of the coaching staff with his overall abilities as a blocker and receiver.

With Jimmy Graham named the obvious starter, and the versatile David Thomas co-starting, the battle came between Higgins and veteran Daniel Graham for the final spot.

Graham, a former first round pick, is famous for his blocking ability and ultimately won out over Higgins.

But again, if an injury should strike, I don’t think the Saints would hesitate to activate Higgins, who has proven he can be successful in the offense.

Hixson, a scrappy corner from Hillsdale College, made more than a few plays during training camp.

He has good cover skills, good speed, and good length accounting for two tackles and one pass defense in limited preseason action.

Linebacker Ezra Butler made seven tackles in the preseason, and with the rash of injuries at linebacker, many thought the Saints would keep him on the 53.

But New Orleans instead kept five running backs and the six receivers which nicked Butler’s potential roster spot.

New Orleans was recently voted as one of the NFL’s deepest teams, and with players like these stashed on the practice squad, it’s easy to see why.

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Tags: Andy Tanner Michael Higgins New Orleans Saints

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