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Though the first bead of sweat has yet to drop for the New Orleans Saints, it’s never too early to predict the 53-man roster leaving training camp in late August.
Talk about a crapshoot. But, what better way to kick off the start of camp Friday than to stargaze and decide who stays and who goes after more than two dozen practices (two against the Los Angeles Chargers) and four preseason games.
One important disclaimer. The 53-man roster that Saints officials will release by 3 p.m. on Aug. 31 likely will not be the same 53 leading up to their season opener against Houston the night of Sept. 9 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
In other words, the roster can be quite fluid between the end of the preseason and Game 1. There could be multiple additions and subtractions before the Saints finally get down to business against the Texans on Monday Night Football (ESPN, 6:10 p.m.).
Keep in mind, the Saints’ opening game 53-man roster will be hard to crack for the vast majority of training camp hopefuls. Expect a few surprises. One or two long shots always seem to emerge from training camp auditions, someone who makes a splash at a skilled position, or on special teams, or perhaps moves up the depth chart because of an injury to other players.
Two veteran defensive tackles will not make the 53-man roster that enters the regular season: Sheldon Rankins will get a roster exemption to start the season while continuing injury rehab and David Onyemata must serve a one-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
They ultimately will count toward the 53 when available, Onyemota sooner than later.
In addition, the Saints are expected to part ways with rookie defensive end Carl Granderson, who recently was sentenced to six months in jail for sexual assault charges.
That said, here we go:
QB (3) — Drew Brees, Teddy Bridgewater, Taysom Hill.
RB (3) — Alvin Kamara, Latavius Murray, Dwayne Washington.
FB (1) — Zach Line.
TE (4) — Jared Cook, Josh Hill, Alize Mack (D-7a), Dan Arnold.
WR (6) — Michael Thomas, Ted Ginn Jr., Tre’Quan Smith, Keith Kirkwood, Cameron Meredith, Austin Carr.
OL (9) — T Terron Armstead, T Ryan Ramczyk, G Larry Warford, G Andrus Peat, C Erik McCoy (D-2), C/G Nick Easton, T Michael Ola, G Will Clapp, G/C Cameron Tom.
DE (4) — Cameron Jordan, Marcus Davenport, Trey Hendrickson, Mario Edwards Jr.
DT (3) — Malcolm Brown, Taylor Stallworth, Kenny Bigelow Jr. (R-FA).
LB (5) — DeMario Davis, Alex Anzalone, Craig Robertson, A.J. Klein, Vince Biegel.
CB (7) — Marshon Lattimore, Eli Apple, Patrick Robinson, Ken Crawley, P.J. Williams, Justin Hardee, Marcus Sherels.
S (5) — Vonn Bell, Marcus Williams, Chauncey Gardner-Johnson (D-4), Chris Banjo, Saquon Hampton (D-6).
SPECIAL TEAMS (3)
K (1) — Wil Lutz.
P (1) — Thomas Morstead.
LS (1) — Zach Wood.
* CB Marcus Sherels and WR Ted Ginn Jr. will handle punt returns. QB/RB Taysom Hill and RB Alvin Kamara will return kicks.