Saints Players Not to Be Overlooked for Training Camp

When looking over the Saints roster and trying to piece together a final squad, there's a few names that tend to get overlooked. Here's some players to keep an eye on as we move towards training camp.
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We have plenty of questions for the Saints going into the new season, but training camp is our first stop in the tour. We posed 25 questions for New Orleans at the beginning of June, and have tackled a few like the upcoming quarterback battle and breakout candidates. For today, we look at some lesser-known players who not only have a chance to make the final squad, but also can contribute in 2021.

Grant Haley celebrates a Ken Crawley interception

Grant Haley celebrates a Ken Crawley interception

Grant Haley

Haley had a chance to be in the spotlight in the slot during the regular season finale against the Panthers, which put himself on the radar. It was quite a moment for the 2018 undrafted rookie, who spent time with the Giants for the first couple seasons of his career. Haley got his first career interception while logging 39 snaps and leading the team with six total tackles.

Haley was given a reserve/future deal after the season, and could now threaten for a roster spot on the 2021 squad. For starters, the Saints will need a gunner to pair opposite of J.T. Gray with the departure of Justin Hardee. The depth behind Marshon Lattimore and presumable starter Paulson Adebo leaves much to the imagination, and if the Saints don't add another veteran, then Haley has a great opportunity in front of him.

Jalen Dalton

Last year, Dalton was having a good training camp and flashing, but wound up suffering a season-ending triceps injury. Dalton was competing for a backup role, and could have been an interesting backup to Malcom Brown. Dalton's 6-foot-6, 300-pound frame could be useful for defending against the run in what will be a very interesting and under the radar training camp battle at defensive tackle. If Dalton can piece together another good training camp and have a good preseason campaign to pair alongside it, then he could easily fit in as the fourth interior lineman.

Derrick Kelly

Kelly, not to be confused with Terron Armstead, appeared in six games for the Saints in 2020. He's been around the team since 2019 after going undrafted, mainly reverting to a reserve interior lineman who appeared on special teams in his time. He logged 16 snaps on offense throughout the season with 22 special teams reps. 

Nick Easton was released by the team as a cap casualty, while Will Clapp signed back with the Saints in late April. Andrus Peat has never made it through a whole season in New Orleans, appearing in just 23 of 32 games in the last two years. We expect Cesar Ruiz to be much better, but the interior depth is a point of emphasis along the line. We're not necessarily suggesting that Kelly will challenge Peat and push to start, but could become an important piece in a 17-game season.

Stock Watch

  • Keith Washington - As it was alluded to earlier, there's an opening for a new partner in crime to share gunner duties with J.T. Gray. Washington has a good opportunity ahead of him, but Haley has to be the favorite for now.
  • Ryan Glasgow - He appeared in two games for the Saints last season in Weeks 11 and 12, having a couple of moments in limited work. The competition is wide open on the interior line, and he's one to keep an eye on.
  • Chase Hansen - Hansen missed his rookie year after an impressive preseason in 2019, and then made the team last season. He appeared in some games, especially the playoff games. Injuries have always been the concern, but if he can piece things together, Hansen has a legitimate shot. 
  • Ethan Wolf - Tight end is an area where the Saints have some uncertainty. Wolf has been around the league since 2018 and joined the team's practice squad in late 2020. He was inked to a reserve/future deal, and is one of several players who are attending George Kittle's Tight End University.

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