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John DeShazier: With preseason over, players left waiting for the call

Cuts have to be made by Saturday afternoon

Even after giving all he had last training camp and preseason, and playing better than almost anyone could have forecast, Khiry Robinson still was unsure.

He had needed a rookie tryout just to earn an invitation to join the New Orleans Saints as an undrafted rookie out of West Texas A&M. He wasn't assured of anything as the Saints prepared for the final roster cuts and went about the business of trimming the roster to 53 players entering the 2013 regular season.

"I was in a room just waiting, waiting for the call," Robinson said. "I didn't know what to expect. I didn't know if they were supposed to call or not call.

"I actually had my bags packed already. I was like, 'I guess it's time to go.' "

Fortunately for Robinson, he didn't have to go anywhere. It turned out that, indeed, he'd done enough to stick, that the running back had put enough on film to impress the Saints into keeping him.

"I got a call, like, 10 minutes after the deadline," he said. "My coach called and said, '(Did) anybody call you?' I was like, 'Naw.' He was like, 'Well, congratulations.'

"I was ready to go. I didn't know what was going to happen. I just left it all on the field and hoped for the best, and prayed."

With the 2014 roster cut down to 53 looming – teams must have their rosters pared Saturday by 3 p.m. – Robinson recalled being in the same position as several Saints players were in Friday.

Whether rookie or veteran, the pending change in the locker room dynamic triggered different emotions for Saints players.

Rookie linebacker Ronald Powell, a fifth-round draft pick, likened the process to waiting for a callback for a job interview.

"I don't feel like anything puts me before another guy just because I was drafted," said Powell, who was credited with 10 tackles and a sack in the preseason. "I feel like we're all on the same scale."

Pierre Warren, an undrafted rookie safety, said he was approaching the decision with calm.

"I'm just going at is at another day, just waiting to hear what it's going to be," said Warren, who hauled in an interception in the Saints' preseason finale against the Ravens on Thursday.

"I feel like I've done a lot, made a few plays, but I've still got more work to do."

But there's no more work to be done to make the team. That process concluded Thursday night, in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

So veteran cornerback Champ Bailey said the best approach a young player could take would be to be satisfied with his work.

"It's really nothing you can do at this point," Bailey said Friday. "The work is done. It's not in their hands. They just have to feel good about what they've done.

"If you've done enough and you've got good tape, other teams will see that. This is a 32-team league. Guys are auditioning every time they go out there. Hopefully they put everything they had out there that they feel good with, that's really what's going to make them a player in this league."

Coach Sean Payton echoed those sentiments, but acknowledged that the process can be a stressful one for players.

"I'm sure it varies," Payton said Friday. "I'm sure it's difficult. There's just that wanting to know. There's a lot invested by every one of those guys, a lot of work and a lot has gone into putting themselves in a position to make a team and stick.

"(But) there's not a finality of it. A lot of these players will have opportunities, practice squad opportunities and opportunities with other teams. We always talk, from the very beginning, that when you're playing you're putting your product out there for not only the team you're on, but for 31 other teams. Our scouts are paying close attention to the other teams (cuts) just as I'm sure (other teams' scouts) are (paying attention to New Orleans' cuts)."

And if the tape is good enough, it'll pay off, like it did for Robinson.

"Just keep praying and have that faith," Robinson advised. "You never know what's going to happen."

photo gallery from the New Orleans Saints preseason finale against the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday, August 28, 2014. Photos by Michael C. Hebert (New Orleans Saints photos)

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