Training camp is here and the New Orleans Saints are hoping to have a much-improved team from last year.
It was pretty rough to watch the defense last year, but they’ve added some much-needed depth to the defensive side of the ball through free agency and the draft. The Saints also added some weapons in Coby Fleener and Michael Thomas for Drew Brees to throw to. All these additions will cause many competitions at positions. Everyone knows competition makes players better, which is exactly what the Saints need to improve. That being said, some of the position spots are more competitive than others.
The first position group that will be competitive is the wide receiver position. Brandin Cooks, Willie Snead, Brandon Coleman, and Michael Thomas are locks, but that fifth spot is wide open. One player that had an opportunity at the spot was Vincent Brown, although he was just placed on injured reserve. Hakeem Nicks and R.J. Harris seem to be the favorites to get the spot, but it’s going to come down to who has the best camp and preseason. Kyle Prater, Reggie Bell, Jared Dangerfield, and Jordan Williams-Lambert could make a push for that spot. The problem with the wide receiver position is the youth on it. Nicks is the oldest at 28, and then all the rest are 24 and under.
The next position that should be competitive is the running back position. Mark Ingram, Tim Hightower, and C.J. Spiller should have a roster spot, but expect the Saints to keep five running backs on the roster. Which means Travaris Cadet, Marcus Murphy, and Daniel Lasco will be competing against each other for those two spots. All three are solid on special teams and are very elusive backs. Cadet may have a leg up simply because he has been in the offense the longest and really has the system down packed. Saints picked him up at the end of the year last season and his play really stood out. Murphy and Lasco are both 7th Round draft picks that are explosive and could fit well in Sean Payton’s offense. Saints are still looking for that Darren Sproles type back, hopefully Spiller fills that role this year, but if he doesn’t maybe one of the younger backs can.
One of the most exciting positional battles is the cornerback position. Delvin Breaux, Keenan Lewis, P.J. Williams, and Damian Swann all have a spot on the roster. The Saints probably only keep five corners and that last spot is up in the air. Brian Dixon’s special teams play could make him the favorite for that fifth spot. Tony Carter and Brandon Dixon also have special teams experience and will be competing for that spot. However, I have a feeling De’Vante Harris, Ken Crawley, and Jimmy Pruitt could standout and take the spot. All of them are very athletic players that went undrafted, so they have something to prove.
Another position that should be really competitive is the offensive line. Drew Brees needs a solid line in front of him so that he can step up in the pocket and hit all his weapons. Terron Armstead, Tim Lelito, Max Unger, Andrus Peat, Zach Strief, and Senio Kelemete all have a place on the roster I believe. The Saints will most likely keep eight linemen, which leaves two spots undecided. Landon Turner, Tyrus Thompson, Jack Allen, and Cyril Lemon seem to be the favorites battling for those two spots. Avery Young, Ryker Mathews, Kaleb Eulls, Marcus Henry, and Joe Cheek really have their work cut out for them, but players come out of nowhere sometimes to make the roster, especially with the Saints.
All these battles will make the preseason games more interesting to watch. We’re two weeks away from football and right now any football is good football, even if it is preseason.