The Saints entered the offseason with a good problem to have, too many talented wide receivers. When the competition got shaken up with Travin Dural going on IR, the Saints added two new pieces in Brandon Tate and Michael Floyd. Veteran receiver Brandon Coleman was released with a failed physical designation, whose blocking and effort will surely be missed. Heading into the first preseason game, the wide receiver outlook is a lot different than originally expected.
The Locks: Michael Thomas, Ted Ginn, Tre’Quan Smith, and Cameron Meredith. The 1-4 wide receivers are set, but the projected snap count share is looking different as Tre’Quan Smith continues to impress at training camp. It will be interesting to see if he is able to live up to the hype in a live game. Cameron Meredith is another interesting person to look out for as he comes back from a 2017 ACL tear. He should see limited snaps, but keep an eye on how he performs returning from his serious injury.
The Bubble: Tommylee Lewis, Michael Floyd, Brandon Tate, Keith Kirkwood, and Austin Carr. All eyes will be on the bubble receivers during preseason. Third year player Tommylee Lewis has been making a case for himself in camp, making eye opening plays day after day. In the same tune, UDFA Keith Kirkwood is starting to make an argument for himself, showing huge flashes of skill and future potential. In his short time here, Floyd has shown signs of his 2013-2015 self, where he was proving himself to be a top target in the league. Brandon Tate will have to make himself known as a quality punt returner if he wants to earn a sport on the roster. Austin Carr will need an extremely impressive preseason to avoid getting cut or spending another year on the practice squad.
The Locks: Marshon Lattimore, Ken Crawley, and Patrick Robinson. Lattimore is looking to build off a strong rookie season, and will only improve lining up against Michael Thomas day after day. After a less than impressive stint in New Orleans, P-Rob returns to hold down the slot. I would also consider Natrell Jamerson and Kamrin Moore both locks to make the roster, as you almost never see rookies in that position cut. Sean Payton and Dennis Allen have switched their college positions, and has Jamerson playing Cornerback and Moore playing Safety. it will be exciting to see how each perform at their respective positions, and to see where they line up throughout the game.
The Bubble: P.J. Williams, De’Vante Harris, Arthur Maulet, Justin Hardee, and Linden Stephens. Before training camp began, I would have told you P.J. Williams was a lock. However, as things began to heat up, we see one name mentioned over and over, Arthur Maulet. Maulet, an UDFA from Memphis, has been creating buzz around himself, and could be a legitimate candidate to take the 4th cornerback position. Justin Hardee has proved time after time that he is an asset on special teams, and will most likely take a roster spot for that alone. It will be interesting to see how many cornerbackers are kept on the roster, especially with Dennis Allens frequent three-safety sets. If we know one thing for sure, preseason will be important for the back four.
The punter return battle has been a mess, to put it nicely. After a lot of trial and error, the Saints landed on three names to return punts: Tommylee Lewis, Brandon Tate, and Ted Ginn. Tommylee Lewis can make a stronger case for himself if he can prove viable as a punt returner. He’s shown flashes of return ability, but has muffed punts on multiple occasions. Brandon Tate is looking to earn his roster spot as a consistent return man. He had some impressive punt return catches in camp so far, and looks to repeat his success in preseason. Ginn, who made Saints fans watch his punt returns with squinted eyes last season, may see some action, but the real battle will end up between Lewis and Tate.
Honorable Mentions: TE Battle, Backup Quarterbacks, and Linebacker Rotations