Well, there still is one remaining preseason game for players who are on the edge of making the New Orleans Saints' 53-man roster, and the 16-man practice squad. They'll have ample opportunity to make their cases Sunday night in the Caesars Superdome, when the Saints try to finish out an undefeated preseason against the Houston Texans. Here's how we think the participation will look:
FIRST QUARTER: Again, we give a tip of the visor to Coach Dennis Allen, for letting everyone know on Friday that Jameis Winston will start at quarterback and Jake Haener will relieve him. No Derek Carr, so figure on Winston probably going for the first quarter and Haener working the final three, or possibly it will be another 50-50 split like last Sunday against the Chargers. Running back duties could begin with Darrell Williams, but we'll see a healthy dose of Ellis Merriweather and Kirk Merritt, who has yet to have a heavy workload in preseason. The No. 2 offensive line will be featured, minus the versatile James Hurst, but maybe starting left tackle Trevor Penning needs a little more work and starts the game. The more reps, the better for him. If Juwan Johnson doesn't go at tight end, and Taysom Hill is hurt, we may see smidge of Foster Moreau to start before he's pulled aside. Linebackers could be Nephi Sewell and D'Marco Jackson, unless Allen and his defensive staff want to get one more look at Jaylon Smith, who possibly already has shown enough to have the night off.
SECOND QUARTER: Cornerback Marshon Lattimore (knee) doesn't start and won't play, and neither will corner Paulson Adebo or safeties Tyrann Mathieu and Marcus Maye. Maybe Alontae Taylor and Bradley Roby started at corner, but they're probably on the sideline by now. So the secondary combination of Isaac Yiadom, Lonnie Johnson Jr., Jordan Howden and Ugo Amadi – who all have made plays during training camp at one time or another – will have the floor and the chance to make some more. Receivers A.T. Perry and Shaquan Davis stood out in the first and second preseason games, respectively. Each has made a strong case for being one of the 53, especially with Tre'Quan Smith sidelined by injury, and one may need to jump off the page on special teams to separate from the other. Defensive end Isaiah Foskey might play the entire first half, because he needs the work.
THIRD AND FOURTH QUARTERS: There's still time to make a lasting impression, and to stay with the organization via the practice squad. Or, to make an impression on another franchise – remember, the auditions aren't simply for the Saints, but also for the other 31 franchises. That'll be worth remembering for receivers Lynn Bowden, Kawaan Baker and Jontre Kirklin, cornerback Troy Pride Jr. and safety Smoke Monday, and linebackers Ty Summers and Nick Anderson. Each of them has to offer something on special teams because if you're not a rotation contributor, special teams is where it's at. Did defensive end Niko Lalos (three sacks in the fourth quarter against the Chargers) shine enough to earn a stay? Did defensive end Kyle Phillips, whose interception against the Chiefs set up the game-winning field goal? And what happens in the kicking game? Wil Lutz and Blake Grupe have waged a spirited battle at kicker; both look good enough to have an NFL job this season. Punter, between Blake Gillikin and Lou Hedley, has been no less spirited as neither has done enough to separate from the other. This game, in which all four figure to have some opportunities, could swing the pendulum one way or the other for both positions.
Catch the best 50 photos from the team's final week of practices at 2023 New Orleans Saints Training Camp presented by Rouses Markets.