The Saints are out of action until we get to training camp at the end of July, and we're in a major lull period in the NFL calendar. We anticipate an announcement for the practice schedule in mid-July, but for now the players get a big break before going into their most important stretch until we get to the regular season.
Some players are going to need to have a little bit extra at training camp this year, and here's a few that we're going to keep a close eye on as things progress through August.
It's been a very mixed bag for the right guard, as the former 24th overall pick from 2020 has had his fair share of struggles. The hope is that Doug Marrone is able to come in and help him be more consistent. He's also very self-aware on what he needs to work on, but for fans, actions will speak louder than words.
For now, Ruiz is going in as a starter for training camp, but he's going to have to fend off someone like Calvin Throckmorton. Ruiz's name was already floated out there previously as part of potential compensation for the Texans way back in the Deshaun Watson conversations. The offensive line hinges on him getting it together and being the player they saw when he was drafted.
Baun is another one of the team's 2020 draftees, and he's found himself primarily relegated to special teams. The former third-round pick did well in training camp and the preseason last year, but when called upon against the Panthers, he was very disappointing. Even in base formations, the Saints turn more to Kaden Elliss, who went undrafted the season before.
Andrew Dowell should be the other definite linebacker in the group with Demario Davis and Pete Werner on the final roster, and Baun is going to have to beat out rookie D'Marco Jackson and veteran Eric Wilson to keep his spot.
Last year was a major disappointment for the free agent pickup, as he missed more than half the season due to injury. Taysom Hill, Adam Trautman, and Juwan Johnson are players who have a strong outlook for the tight end group, and Vannett could find himself on the bubble if he can't outplay the likes of Lucas Krull or the other two free agents the Saints brought in with J.P. Holtz and Kahale Warring.
Keep An Eye Out
- Malcolm Roach - He's going to get pushed by the veterans the team brought in. Both Jaleel Johnson and Kentavius Street could easily unseat Roach on the starting roster, but another player to keep tabs on would be Jordan Jackson.
- Tony Jones Jr. - His camp last year made players like Devonta Freeman and Latavius Murray expendable, but an injury early in the year hurt his season. When he did come back, he was just a non-factor. The Saints have already looked at one veteran like David Johnson, and it probably won't be the last. Along with Abram Smith, Devine Ozigbo, and Dwayne Washington, Jones Jr. is likely fighting for that one spot.
- Ian Book - In my first roster prediction, Book was left out of the final roster as part of a numbers game. Book's OTAs and minicamp were mixed, and when I asked Ronald Curry about him, there's tremendous growth and promise from the second-year quarterback. This season the pecking order at the position is definitive, and Book's training camp will speak for itself as to whether or not he makes it.
- Justin Evans - Him coming back to football is certainly a great story in itself, but the one spot New Orleans is pretty deep at is the safety spot. Bryce Thompson's early flashes have him ahead of many on the depth chart. Evans may have to beat out Daniel Sorensen to crack the final squad.
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