From as many as seven rostered backs to five, the New Orleans Saints are slowly but surely trimming their running back corps this preseason. Who is best-positioned to make final cuts?
The starting and backup ball-carrier for NOLA is not up for debate: Alvin Kamara, who likely won’t get suspended this season, and fan-favorite Mark Ingram sit in the first two spots in the RB room.
Behind them, Dwayne Washington, Tony Jones Jr., and Abram Smith will fight for the two remaining spots assuming the Saints roster four backs in the regular season.
We previously wrote about which back has the shot at winning an RB3 role after the preseason opener, and one week later, not much has changed.
Right now, it seems like the RB3 position is Dwayne Washington’s to lose as Washington brings a combination of experience and unique special teams talent to the table.
Still, Washington could still lose his footing on the depth chart if Smith or Jones were to seriously impress in the upcoming weeks.
NOLA Saints’ running back competition is coming down to the wire in 2022
While preseason poses as an excellent opportunity for running backs to prove their worth, just because a player isn’t participating doesn’t mean their stock is dropping. Washington, for example, didn’t play a single snap against the Packers probably due to the fact that Dennis Allen wanted to keep him healthy for the season.
Washington has developed into a standout ball-carrying gadget for NOLA, playing at least 64 percent of special teams snaps in each of the last three years, so one of those two backup running back spots almost certainly has his name on it.
As for Smith and Jones, they both split time on offense and on special teams against Green Bay; Smith played 35 percent of offensive snaps and 48 percent of specials teams snaps, and Jones played 24 percent of offensive snaps and 32 percent of specials teams snaps.
Jones may have an ever-so-slight edge given his familiarity in the offense, and Dennis Allen has also previously noted that Smith putting the “football on the ground” was a concern. The undrafted free agent can’t afford to record any fumbles or drops, not when that final roster spot is on the line.
Smith and Jones will get one more preseason matchup to showcase their skills when the Saints play the Los Angeles Chargers on Friday, August 26.
May the best running back win.