The New Orleans Saints are currently in the middle of OTAs and some interesting tidbits of news are coming out surrounding three key players, specifically cornerbacks Keenan Lewis, Patrick Robinson and linebacker Martez Wilson.
According to Mike Triplett of NOLA.com, Lewis, Robinson and Wilson have been practicing with the first string defense so far:
The biggest depth-chart surprise during the New Orleans Saints’ first OTA practice open to the media Thursday was seeing cornerback Jabari Greer with the second team behind Keenan Lewis and Patrick Robinson. But Coach Sean Payton stressed not to read anything into who was running with the first-string and second-string Thursday.
Payton said the pecking order can change from practice to practice – and even from drill to drill – during this early stage of the offseason.
None of this should come as a surprise.
Sure, things could change at the drop of a hat, but the three players listed as “surprises” are more than deserving of a starting role or at least competing for one.
Many Saints fans will shudder at the thought of Robinson as a starter again after his horrific 2012 campaign, but another year of development and better guidance from new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan could make all the difference.
Last year Lewis was quietly one of the better corners in the NFL, hence him being one of the most heavily-pursued defenders in free agency. Lewis is No. 1 corner material and is arguably the best the Saints have at the position right now. He’s already better than both Robinson and veteran Jabari Greer—he just has to prove he has picked up the playbook adequately.
The one name of the three who should be a surprise is Wilson. He’s an athletic freak with an ability to get to the quarterback but it’s hard to know how he will pan out in a 3-4. It makes sense he’s seeing starting time over free-agent linebacker Victor Butler thanks to his experience with the team. Wilson and Butler are guys who should rotate while fighting for the right to start.
All in all it makes sense Lewis, Robinson and Wilson are looking at starting roles early in the preseason. Call it jumping the gun, but all three guys have what it takes to earn starter slots by the time the season rolls around. OTAs are merely the first step in the process.