Predicting the Saints roster: 53 to keep through two preseason games

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Some quick takes from the Saints-Chargers preseason game and an early look at the final 53 man roster:

The Saints offensive line blocked very well in the running game, but the group needs work as a pass blocking unit. More experience by rookie Ryan Ramczyk plus the return of center Max Unger should help. The pieces are in place for the line to be very solid.

It will be an interesting battle at wide receiver after Michael Thomas and Willie Snead IV. Do the Saints keep five or six wide receivers?

The remaining battles in my eyes are between Brandon Coleman, Ted Ginn Jr., Tommylee Lewis, and Corey Fuller. Lewis really needs to be on this team. If Ginn can be the answer as a punt returner, which the team really needs, he should make it. But that job may go to Alvin Kamara. In fact, it likely will. I would keep Lewis, Fuller and Coleman over Ginn, but that is not likely to be how it shakes out.

Back to the offensive line, where I think no more than eight players are kept on the active roster to start the season. Saints head coach Payton may be looking for one that is not on the present roster. I think offensive tackles Khalif Barnes and Bryce Harris may be gone soon, so don’t be surprised to see a veteran released by another team become the backup in New Orleans until Terron Armstead is activated from the PUP list.

It now looks like the Saints keep two quarterbacks unless Garrett Grayson really shows more in the third pre-season game. I don’t think Ryan Nassib will stick.

The three tight ends – Coby Fleener, Michael Hoomanawanui and Josh Hill – are likely set.

Four running backs – Mark Ingram, Adrian Peterson, Kamara, and Daniel Lasco – seem to be locks for the roster but both Darius Victor, and Trey Edmunds have shown enough to end up on the practice squad. Travis Cadet’s days are numbered. The Saints should keep one fullback, John Kuhn.

Wil Lutz, Thomas Morstead (who had a super game punting against the Chargers) and deep snapper Justin Drescher are the obvious specialists to stick.

This leaves us 27 spots to fill.

On defense, The Saints may end up with 10 defensive lineman. At defensive end, Cam Jordan, Darryl Tapp, Al-Quadin Muhammad, Alex Okafor, Hau’oli Kikaha, Trey Hendrickson and Obum Gwacham. Jordan and Hendrickson can also slid inside. At defensive tackle, David Onyemata, Sheldon Rankins and Tyeler Davison are the only locks. If Tony McDaniel makes it, Gwacham may be the odd man out.

I suspect seven linebackers – A.J. Klein, Manti Te’o, Craig Robertson, Alex Anzalone, Nate Stupar, Michael Mauti and Stephone Anthony – make the cut. Adam Bighill is a wild card for a backup role though.

Anthony, a former first-round pick, may be on the bubble if he doesn’t get on the field and do more. He could also be used in a trade for help in an area like offensive tackle as well.

I am thinking 10 defensive backs make it. The cornerbacks are Marshon Lattimore, P. J. Williams, Ken Crawley, Sterling Moore, Devante Harris and Delvin Breaux by my count. Safeties Vonn Bell, Marcus Williams, Kenny Vaccaro and Rafael Bush seem certain but Chris Banjo is a special teams ace who may force the coaches’ hands.

That makes 27 on defense and 23 on offense plus the specialists for the 53 man roster, but a lot can happen until the last cut down day. Still, there are only a handful of roster spots still up for grabs.

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