As the days of camp go by, predicting roster spots is a total crapshoot because it's so dependent on injuries. Things can change in the blink of an eye, and the "next man up" mantra can apply quite harshly. A guy can go from the outside looking in, to on the 53 man roster in one second. Or the opposite, where a guy that's a lock has it all blow up in his face at the last second. I remember when backup tight end Billy Miller blew out his Achilles tendon late in the last preseason game of 2009 to cost himself a spot on the 53 man roster (he was a lock before that injury). Someone wasn't going to make the team until that happened, and then they were in. I can't remember who that guy was, but that is just an example of injuries dictating who makes what. No one knows that better than Andy Tanner, who was turning in the best training camp of his life last year and outperforming all the receivers in preseason before wrecking his ankle so close to week 1. Instead, the injury meant Greg Camarillo and Saalim Hakim splitting time on the Saints' 53 man roster last year with Andy Tanner stashed away on the practice squad trying to heal. Hakim and Camarillo made no impact.
Tanner was the player of the day yesterday once again, if you follow Dave Cariello on twitter. Diving catches, hanging on to any football that comes within sight, schooling Kenny Vaccaro… you know, pretty much all the exact same things he did last year. His relatively diminuitive size and lack of top end speed make him a less sexy pick to make the roster, but he just keeps showing up and doing his job and because of that and his extremely reliable hands he's a fan favorite. Last year he was fifth on the team with 8 catches for 120 yards in preseason before the injury. By all accounts he was headed towards a roster spot. With Devery Henderson gone, the opportunity is open for Tanner even more now… if he keeps doing what he's doing and stays healthy. If both of those things happen, I just don't see how the Saints can justify releasing him. Nick Toon is a guy that's performing well, but right now I think Tanner is the #4 guy (or at worst #5). I think there's a good chance the Saints will keep six receivers, if you include Courtney Roby who is mostly competing against defensive players for a special teams spot. If they keep six, Tanner is a favorite. If they just keep five, Tanner is probably more deserving but less likely to be kept over Nick Toon.
So that's where injuries come into play. And not just the guys ahead of Andy Tanner. If the guys ahead of Tanner are all healthy, obviously that makes him less valuable. But if the Saints as a team are relatively healthy, they can afford to keep a guy like Tanner as roster depth luxury. If they are really banged up at a position, then maybe they can only afford to keep five receivers. So all we can do is really wait and see how it unfolds… but I will say this: Andy Tanner is once again stating his case for deserving a spot very loudly.
Do you think Andy Tanner ends up on the roster?