Five New Orleans Saints to watch against the Packers
By John Hendrix
The New Orleans Saints suit up for their final preseason contest tonight against the Green Bay Packers. Contrary to popular belief, this is not a meaningless game. As of right now, there are still plenty of roster battles that don’t have clear winners. It all likely comes down to who performs the best tonight to warrant consideration for a final roster spot.
Here are the players that I’m watching in tonight’s game.
It could be the final curtain call for Ryan Griffin tonight. Much uncertainty exists for his place on the New Orleans Saints roster. Veteran Luke McCown got the starting nod against the Houston Texans last Sunday, and it was rookie Garrett Grayson who nearly played the rest of the game. Griffin mysteriously entered the game with just a minute to go, and ended up throwing an interception. Needless to say, there’s a bit of a bad taste left there.
As I previously mentioned in my roster prediction, I firmly believe that if the Saints were wanting to deal Ryan Griffin and give him an opportunity to latch on elsewhere, they would have showcased him against the Texans. Griffin should see plenty of reps against the Packers, but it could be all for naught. He’s practice squad eligible, but I don’t believe he’ll last through the waiver process if the Saints go in that direction.
Personally, I believe Willie Snead has done enough to stamp his place on the final 53-man roster. However, some of us might feel a bit greedy and want to see one more strong performance out of Snead. I believe there are only three concrete players on the Saints receiving corps right now: Marques Colston, Brandin Cooks, and Brandon Coleman. There are two other spots up for grabs, and I believe Snead leads the way. Josh Morgan, Joe Morgan, and the somewhat forgotten Seantavius Jones will put in extensive work tonight.
It was just yesterday that The Advocate’s Nick Underhill suggested that veteran Mike McGlynn was ahead of rookie Sean Hickey in his projected 53-man roster. Why is this important? The New Orleans Saints are likely to roll with eight offensive linemen this season, and Senio Kelemete currently sits as the backup to Max Unger. Andrus Peat will likely serve as the backup tackle to Zach Strief and Terron Armstead (especially a sixth lineman option), so the third guard spot behind Jahri Evans and Tim Leltio is up for grabs.
McGlynn, who has been in the league since 2008, has nearly played in triple the snaps (135) to Hickey (52). The Saints shelled out a $10,000 signing bonus to Hickey, and guaranteed $12,500 of his 2015 salary. Hickey was converted from a tackle at Syracuse to a guard in the NFL and is practice squad eligible, but it’s hard to see him clearing waivers.
Henry Coley is an intriguing middle linebacker prospect. In my opinion, he’s really giving someone like Ramon Humber a run. Coley has the most snaps (118) of any Saints linebacker currently, and definitely fits the bill of a potential practice squad player. Expect Coley to see extensive work tonight, but a strong outing may make things a little more interesting for the New Orleans Saints front office. If there was any surprise addition on the Saints defense, he’d be my guy.
Dustin Hopkins/Zach Hocker
You are likely going to find out tonight who the winner is in the kicking game. Dustin Hopkins looked to have the early edge on the competition over Zach Hocker, but it’s now looking as though it’s flip-flopped. As I often say, both have cannons for legs, and it’s really unfortunate that someone has to lose in this battle. Both heavily respect each other, and have clearly benefitted from the teachings of John Carney. Of course, we could all be fooled at the end of it all. Last year we witnessed that cutting all of your kickers was an option.
Honorable mentions: Bobby Richardson, Ashaad Mabry, Kyle Wilson
What New Orleans Saints are you keeping a close watch on tonight?