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Intriguing roster battles looming in Saints camp

With the OTAs already underway and the 90 man roster largely formed, with the possible exception of a couple additions/subtractions here and there, the focus has turned to who is in house. Some roster spots are givens barring injury whereas others will be fought for right down to the wire. There’s a number of which I’m paying very close attention to in particular, though. They are the following:

1. The #4 receiver

I’ve mentioned this before and surely you’ve seen this discussed by the legits ™ and/or other blogs. But while Marques Colston, Kenny Stills and Brandin Cooks figure to be big parts of the receiving core, the other main rotation guy is a bit of a question mark. Robert Meachem and Nick Toon are the guys that played last year and come back healthy, but a returning Joe Morgan will look to reclaim his role, and you’ve got guys like Brandon Coleman or Andy Tanner who could surprise. Meachem is probably the favorite going in, and would be a safe choice, but I have to admit I’m hoping a surprise emergence from some of these younger guys (including Morgan coming back from injury) can make the veteran expendable.

2. Outside Linebacker

I include Junior Galette in this group even though he can easily be labelled a defensive end based on his role last season. Either way, Galette has earned his place on the field and belongs on as many snaps as possible. Besides him, though, there’s a lot of question marks. Parys Haralson was the running downs starter last year, but he tore his pectoral muscle late last season and his health is a question mark. You also have Victor Butler returning from an ACL, though his skillset is quite different to that of Haralson. Then you’ve got Keyunta Dawson who was pretty good as a reserve last year, as well as draft picks Rufus Johnson (2013) and Ronald Powell (2014). There’s also a slew of guys we know relatively little about that are vying to get in the mix with Kyle Knox, Kasim Edebali, Cheta Ozougwu and Chidera Uzo-Diribe. If health can be assumed the favorites to get reps after Galette are Haralson and Butler, but you just get the feeling we’re in for a share of surprises at this position.

3. The #4 Cornerback

Behind Keenan Lewis it seems Champ Bailey has some role within the team. Whether that’s in the slot or as a starter, he’s in. Then you have Corey White who likely rounds out the top 3. After that it’s a battle between Patrick Robinson, who is returning from a major injury but probably contends he is good enough to start, Rod Sweeting who is a young player the Saints like, and rookie Stanley Jean-Baptiste. I’d love to see the Saints keep all six of these players. Then you’ve got Trevin Wade who played pretty well last year too and will not lose his roster spot without a fight. But even if the Saints keep these 6/7 players, which one of the “backups” sees the field more?

4. Center

I don’t know who Tim Lelito will be battling. Hopefully Jonathan Goodwin, but regardless of who it is he can’t be handed this starting role. He just can’t.

5. Backup Quarterback

Luke McCown is the backup until further notice, but Ryan Griffin was kept on the 53 man roster for a reason last year. The Saints didn’t want to lose him and have their investment in him go to waste. But is he ready in year two to already take over the backup role to Drew Brees? That’s a lot of experience he’s competing against.