Saints Roster: Realistic expectations for James Hurst in 2022

James Hurst, New Orleans Saints (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
James Hurst, New Orleans Saints (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

Can James Hurst end up serving as a starter on the New Orleans Saints roster in 2022? What should be expected of the veteran offensive lineman? 

It was a smart move for the New Orleans Saints to sign James Hurst in the 2020 offseason. He provided them with a solid backup offensive lineman should injuries pile up and he’s gone on to appear in double-digit games during both of his seasons with the team.

This year proves to be an interesting one for Hurst and the most important for him during his time with the black and gold. With Terron Armstead no longer in New Orleans and instead preparing to block for Tua Tagovailoa in Miami, Hurst has a chance to be the starting left tackle in the Big Easy.

The Saints spent one of their two first-round selections on Northern Iowa’s Trevor Penning, however, and that’s what stands in Hurst’s way of being a starter this year.

Saints Roster: What’s to be expected of James Hurst in 2022?

Unless Penning is really bad and struggles during training camp and preseason, he’s likely going to win the starting job. NOLA didn’t spend a first-round pick on the guy to have him sit on the sidelines and not protect Jameis Winston.

That being said, if Penning struggles and Dennis Allen and company think it’s a better move to have Hurst start, that wouldn’t surprise me either. Hurst started 15 games for the team last year and filled in at left tackle while Armstead was out for nine games. He finished the 2021 season with a PFF grade of 69.8 during that time, allowing just three sacks and getting flagged four times.

Having Hurst as the left tackle might disappoint fans because it’d mean that Penning is just sitting on the sidelines but this is sometimes the right strategy. It’s hard for rookie offensive linemen to step in and be productive, especially at left tackle.

If James Hurst is the one who gets the call to be the starting left tackle, he’ll do a decent job. We’ll just have to see how Trevor Penning performs this summer.

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