Sep 3, 2009

Preseason: Saints vs. Dolphins

The Saints will take on the Dolphins tonight in, perhaps, the most meaningless preseason game of the four. The starters are set to play about one series, if that much. But there are some roster bubble battles to look out for.

Here are a few to keep an eye on:
  1. Wide Receiver/Returner: The last real battle in camp is for the 5th/6th WR spot and kick/punt returner. These two positions may be one in the same. Rod Harper has made a good impression on both special teams and as a receiver, and he may have earned a roster spot. Guys like Courtney Roby, Skyler Green and Adrian Arrington are his main competition, but if Robert Meachem proves to be a viable option as a kick returner, the Saints may only keep five receivers. Arrington was a coaching staff favorite, but he just can't seem to stay healthy and may be a goner.
  2. Running Back: Reggie Bush, Pierre Thomas and Mike Bell are locked in, but who's the fourth back? Lynell Hamilton looked to have sewn up the spot, but rookie P.J. Hill's performance against the Raiders caused the team to give him another look.
  3. Linebacker: Young linebackers like Jonathan Casillas and Anthony Waters are pushing guys like Troy Evans, Jo-Lonn Dunbar and Marvin Mitchell, but I think those three are safe. The question becomes what to do with Casillas and Waters, as both have performed well enough to make the roster.
  4. Safety: The battle is coming down to Usama Young, Chris Reis and Pierson Prioleau ... and what does the team do with 4th round pick Chip Vaughn? I don't see Young being cut, even with his recent injury and arrest. Reis is a special teams ace and has tons of potential in Gregg Williams defense. Prioleau is a Williams favorite as well. It will be interesting to see who stays and who gets cut. Then there's Vaughn, who has been hurt most of the preseason. They could opt for the IR with him, but he said that he wants to play and doesn't want to go on the IR. What happens if they put him there, will he become upset all year?
  5. Defensive Line: This group isn't so much about the competition, but about the fill-ins while Charles Grant and Will Smith serve their four game suspensions. Paul Spicer, Bobby McCray and Anthony Hargrove will likely get the most snaps with Grant and Smith out. Also watch for Jeff Charleston. It will be more interesting when the two starters return in week 5. At DT, the Saints cut Rod Coleman this week, so don't be surprised if they bring in someone else after the roster cuts, as this is probably the thinnest position on the team.
Other: Besides those positions, there aren't many roster spots up for grabs. The team may decide to go with only two quarterbacks, so check out both Mark Brunell and Joey Harrington tonight see if they can influence Coach Payton to keep all three.

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