Surprises among Saints cuts

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Dan Arnold, Cyril Grayson, Jr.
(Photo: Stephen Lew)

As Jim Mora once stated, “you don’t know and you never will know.”

For pundits predicting the final 53-man roster of the New Orleans Saints prior to this weekend, that statement is applicable.

There were certainly some surprises among the cuts made Saturday by the New Orleans Saints.

Emmanuel Butler was the toast of the town for the first two weeks of training camp. While Butler may well end up on the practice squad, it is simply another illustration of what I tell you every year—do not pay much attention to training camp. People have to have something to talk about. What people do in practice has little bearing on what they do in game situations.

Chris Banjo is a solid safety who has proven he can play the position adequate;y while earning his keep as an excellent special teams player for the Saints. But he was released as well.

J.T. Gray showed enough promise last year and in camp this year to edge Banjo out for the final spot at safety.

The Saints also opted to keep Patrick Robinson despite P.J. Williams’ clearly outplaying him for the starting spot as a slot corner. Robinson’s contract situation may have helped his cause as much as anything.

Placing Cameron Tom on injured reserve certainly assured Nick Easton and Will Clapp of spots on the squad and it points to the likelihood of the Saints picking up a tackle or two from the waiver wire in the quest to find a backup to Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramczyk.

Devine Ozigbo is a talented player who should have a future in the NFL. The rookie out of Nebraska simply could not beat out veteran Dwayne Washington. The Saints surely would have liked to bring Ozigbo back on to their practice squad but the Jaguars claimed him on waivers this weekend.

Then, there is the case of Dan Arnold. There is no doubt that the tight end can run. Can he catch the ball consistently enough? Can he block effectively enough? His release certainly surprised me. With Garrett Griffin injured, the Saints are rolling the dice with just two tight ends on the roster, at least for the moment.

Although he was let go Friday, Cyril Grayson Jr. did enough to merit consideration. His speed is obvious, and he made big catches in preseason games but the numbers game caught up with the Rummel and LSU product. The Saints may want to keep him around.

The wide receiver moves mean that Saints head coach Sean Payton has chosen to go with the same group which finished last season and drew some criticism. We all know Michael Thomas is elite, and Ted Ginn Jr. is still both fast and effective. What we don’t know is what Tre’Quan Smith or Keith Kirkwood will produce in their second pro seasons.

Then there is Austin Carr.

While not a productive player a year ago, Carr is a discipline route runner whom Drew Brees likes and depends on and Payton likes. He can contribute somewhat on special teams as well. The Northwestern alum is a high character guy.

The Saints are clearly banking on further development from Smith and Kirkwood while leaning on tight end Jared Cook to be the fourth wheel in the passing game with Thomas, Ginn and Kamara.

Finally, placing Marcus Sherels on injured reserve was inevitable. He missed the entire preseason while rookie Deonte Harris shined throughout as a return man. There was no way the Saints were going to let Harris get away.

While the final 53 are set, it is very likely that there will be more change prior to the Sept. 9 opener with Houston. It happens that way every year. Always expect the unexpected.

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Ken Trahan

Ken Trahan

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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE Owner and CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Football Foundation, College…

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