Kristian: Payton and the Saints making tough roster decisions
by Kristian Garic,posted Aug 29 2014 3:05PM
Every player, every coach approaches "cut down" day in the NFL a little differently. Saints coach Sean Payton and his coaching staff are charged with the task of formulating the teams' final roster they’ll carry into the regular season. NFL teams have to pare their rosters down to 53 players by tomorrow afternoon at 3pm. The Saints have some tough decisions to make at kicker, safety, and wide reciever. The Saints could have a few veterans and younger players released that will then likely be top targets for other teams in the league.
The kicking battle between Derek Dimke and Shayne Graham is a particularly tough one to call. Graham has the veteran experience and Dimke has the stronger leg. The Saints could roll the dice a little bit with Dimke, and if doesn’t work out, the team could always go back and make a play for Graham or another kicker that will be available. Graham is a vested veteran, and if he’s on the roster past week one of the regular season, his salary is fully guaranteed. I think Dimke ends up winning this competition.
The Saints apparently are collecting safeties, and five out of the six currently on the roster are virtual locks to make the final 53. Jairus Byrd, Kenny Vaccaro, and Rafael Bush figure to play prominent rolls on defense this season. Marcus Ball could also find his way into some defensive packages in games. Rookie Vinnie Sunseri’s likely contributions will come on special teams in the kicking game. Undrafted rookie free agent Pierre Warren is the wild card. He’s played well enough to merit a roster spot, but the Saints might feel comfortable in trying to slip him onto the practice squad. I think Warren also makes the roster, and could be a player the Saints move up and down the active squad based on injuries at various positions.
Have we seen the last of Robert Meachem? One week ago I thought it was a near certainty. Today, with the nagging injury to Kenny Stills (quad) I think it’s possible the team keeps 6 wide receivers. Meachem rejoined the Saints last season after Joe Morgan was lost for the year with an ACL injury. Stills, Marques Colston, Brandin Cooks, and Morgan are firmly in place. Nick Toon has made just enough strides and Meachem looks like he’s the odd man out. If the Saints release Meachem it will be a sure-fire sign they feel good about Kenny Stills’ recovery and availability for week 1 against Atlanta.