Two things to remember for Thursday's preseason game in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome against the Miami Dolphins, the New Orleans Saints' final one of 2019:
First, there still are jobs on the line. Second, those jobs might be earned by players who aren't on the Saints' current roster.
New Orleans, like every other NFL team, has been scouting every available player. So – for instance – if the Saints like an offensive lineman, linebacker, running back or safety from another team and that lineman happens to be released on Saturday, New Orleans very well could sign that player to be a member of its 53-man roster. Eventually, that might not be the case, but that possibility exists (see: Wil Lutz, 2016 and Taysom Hill, 2017, to name a couple).
And, conversely, the Saints simply don't have room for all of the good players on the current roster; several of the players released will find homes with other NFL franchises.
So, hopefully, a well-executed, injury-free game will be the offering rendered by a horde of players still looking to make good impressions. Here's what I think might happen:
FIRST HALF: The Saints only have three quarterbacks, and since Drew Brees probably won't be throwing a pass after warmups, Teddy Bridgewater gets the start and goes the entire first half. Under different circumstances, Taysom Hill would start and play the entire game, but the Saints' No. 3 quarterback is just too valuable in so many areas to have him in harm's way for that length of time. So Bridgewater opens, and his targets will include receivers Emmanuel Butler and Simmie Cobbs, with some Cyril Grayson Jr. and possibly Deonte Harris sprinkled in. Harris may be involved in the return game, but there isn't much need to see him there. We've got a pretty good idea what he can do, so Grayson and running back Kerwynn Williams could handle those duties.
We won't see Jared Cook at tight end, but Dan Arnold is coming on strong and rookie Alize Mack is trying to work his way into a role with the team, perhaps as a practice squad player. Rookie center Erik McCoy plays minimally or totally sits this one out; that means more snaps for Cameron Tom at center, and Nick Easton mans one guard spot. Michael Ola gets the chance to post some good tape at left tackle.
On defense, Kaden Elliss and Vince Biegel start at linebacker, Trey Hendrickson and Wes Horton probably open at defensive end and, maybe, we'll see P.J. Williams and Patrick Robinson at corner. More likely, it'll be Ken Crawley and Kayvon Webster taking the majority of the snaps. It wouldn't totally be off the charts for defensive tackle David Onyemata to play, since he'll miss the season opener while serving a suspension, but Taylor Stallworth at tackle should get the most work. Rookie safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson gets to start and to play his most extensive snaps, maybe along with J.T. Gray. It'd be nice to see rookie safety Saquan Hampton return, but that's an optimistic view.
SECOND HALF: Now, we get Hill at quarterback. Devine Ozigbo gets the reps at running back in the first half, and perhaps some in the second, but Kerwynn Williams gets more work in the backfield and, perhaps, in the return game. Travin Dural and Lil'Jordan Humphrey are good targets at receiver, as well as A.J. Derby at tight end. Mack could get some work at tight end in the second half, too, but Derby has been productive in preseason.
Linebacker Porter Gustin has been a solid pressure player and he'll be around the ball and in the backfield for the defense. He should be joined at linebacker by Darnell Sankey, who also adds some pop to the pass rush. Gustin and Sankey are active enough that, maybe, one forces a ball loose. We know what Justin Hardee means as a special teamer; he continues to try to bolster his resume at cornerback.