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John DeShazier: Andy Tanner finally sticks on New Orleans Saints roster

Posted Aug 31, 2013

Wide receiver had been involved in 33 transactions

Updated 2013 New Orleans Saints Roster

The 34th time proved to be the charm for Andy Tanner.

After three years and 33 transactions with the New Orleans Saints, the wide receiver finally saw his persistence pay off Saturday, when he claimed a spot on New Orleans’ 53-man, regular-season roster.

Among the players released as the Saints trimmed from 75 players to 53 was wide receiver Courtney Roby. Roby, an eight-year veteran who played 66 of his 82 career games with New Orleans, was special teams captain the last two seasons. His contract was terminated.

And the Saints will enter this season with five running backs on the roster – Pierre Thomas, Mark Ingram, Darren Sproles, Travaris Cadet and Khiry Robinson.

But the major development was the retention of Tanner, a 6-foot, 183-pound grinder from Midwestern State whose determination to stick and preseason production made him a Saints fan favorite.

Tanner never has appeared in a regular-season game, but his name is well-recognized. From 2010 until training camp this year, he’d been involved in 33 prior transactions with the Saints. He was signed and released from the practice squad, waived and signed to a reserve/future contract often enough to have become as familiar as many Saints on the active roster.

Saturday, after being developed by the team, he was rewarded with a long-awaited roster spot. New Orleans Saints

In doing so, he nudged ahead of receiver Preston Parker for a position. Parker, a three-year veteran who had 40 receptions for Tampa Bay in 2011, and Tanner were thought to have been locked in a battle for the No. 5 receiver. The top four positions have been secured by Marques Colston, Lance Moore, Kenny Stills and Nick Toon.

Both Tanner and Parker finished preseason with two touchdown receptions. Tanner finished with six catches for 92 yards and Parker, nine for 122. Parker also returned seven kickoffs for 176 yards.

But Tanner, a precise route runner whose familiarity with the Saints’ offensive system was unquestioned, became the latest former free agent rookie to become a member of the gameday roster.

He’s joined this season by defensive end Glenn Foster, who had a team-high four sacks this preseason; cornerback Rod Sweeting, who may be called upon to handle several of Roby’s special teams duties; tight end Josh Hill; inside linebacker Kevin Reddick and Robinson, who ran for 115 yards on 22 carries in the preseason finale against Miami. Robinson led the NFC with 228 rushing yards in preseason.

Previous undrafted rookies on the 53-man roster include Thomas and Cadet, outside linebacker Junior Galette and Moore (who originally went to training camp with Cleveland).